Battle lines have been drawn in a picturesque village over the future of a former award-winning pub.
The historic Sebastopol Inn - named after the famous siege of that city during the Crimean War - in Minting was renowned throughout Lincolnshire for its ‘high quality’ food - until the owners closed it down in August 2016.
Having failed to sell the pub, the owners have submitted an application to planners at East Lindsey Council for permission to change the use of the building into a domestic dwelling.
In a report sent to planners and published on ELDC’s website, a Lincoln based design consultancy stresses the pub is no longer ‘a viable option.’
The report states that while the loss of an ‘under-used community facility’ is ‘regrettable’, there are other buildings that can be utilised, including a village hall.
The application has brought a stinging response from residents. Almost 20 of them have written to ELDC to object to the change of use.
A Community Benefit Society - set up in a failed bid to buy the Sebastopol - has also objected.
One resident says the closure of pub has ‘torn the heart out of the village.’
Several residents write that the pub could be a viable proposition and question why it was shut down. They say it should, and could, become an ‘important focus’ of the community again.
Several other claims are made which the News cannot report for legal reasons.
The Lincoln branch of Camra - the real ale campaign group - also wants to see the pub retained.
Villagers add that while the village hall has merits, its use is restricted because of a variety of factors.
However, the design consultancy report refutes the claims.
It states the owners first tried to sell the pub in 2013 when it was put on the market for £350,000.The asking price was reduced to £325,500 early in 2014 and again, to £295,000 last December.
The report confirms the pub was offered to the ‘community group’ - which included many residents and parish councillors - for £290,000.
Despite attracting regional and local media coverage, the report says 14 months of campaigning generated an offer of £175,000, including £100,000 from a ‘leverage scheme’.
The report adds: “Throughout their five year tenure, the current owners have tried tirelessly to make the business a success and have invested heavily in the property.
“The owners are not seeking change of use because they wish to deprive the village of a long established facility.
“They are doing so because this is their home, which has proven ‘unsaleable’ as a public house.
“Unless the owners can realise their investment in it, they cannot move elsewhere. In its current layout, the premises are not conducive to residential occupation.
“In conclusion, whilst the loss of an under-used community facility is regrettable, the proposal is considered to meet the policy for change of use.”