Please object to the proposed plan to convert the pub into a private residence
Following the recent planning application for change of use by the present owner of the White Horse, there have been nearly 90 letters of objection sent in by the public. We would hope that the comments will be taken seriously, and are waiting to hear the date of the meeting to be arranged by North Herts District Council (likely end of June) when the fate of the White Horse will be decided. It is not too late to email Tom Rea if you haven’t yet expressed your views. Please email *Tom.Rea@north-herts.gov.uk quoting ref 21/01018/FP *
The building has now been put on the “Save Britain's Heritage” 'Buildings at Risk' register and a lengthy report has been compiled by our specialist planning advisor which will be submitted in the next few days.
We have resumed contact with the Plunkett Foundation who are supporting us, and who will be able to offer grants to contribute to the financial cost needed to get the pub up and running once back in the hands of the community.
We also have the strong support of our MP Bim Afolami as well as that of our own Parish Council and other councillors from all parties within North Herts District Council, and our campaign to 'Save Our White Horse' has been covered by Hitchin Nub News; Welwyn and Hatfield Times; the Comet and the Herts Advertiser.
Some of you have very kindly contributed to our GoFundMe page for costs that we have incurred in our efforts to save our valuable village asset. The biggest cost we have had to cover is the appointment of the specialist planning advisor who is working on our behalf. Unfortunately, despite some very generous donations, the amount so far does not yet cover her fees which we feel are worth every penny, and we would be very grateful for further help towards this. If everyone contributed a small amount, we would be in a much better position, and be able to request further expertise to strengthen our case. If the planning application goes through, we have lost the White Horse for good. If we can get the plans rejected, and keep up the pressure, there is a good chance that we can finally get it back for the good of the community. If you are able to contribute, please go to:
Thank you all for your continuing support.
See below for links to press comments about the campaign!
Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SaveOurWhiteHorse
Planning Applications for the White Horse have finally been registered with NHDC. It is clear from the plans that the current owner is not seriously intending to keep the building as a pub. They can be viewed here:
The White Horse Public House, 22-24 High Street, Kimpton, Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG4 8RJ
21/01018/FP - Change of Use and Conversion to Residential
We now have advice from our Planning Consultant regarding the planning law objections that can be used for residents’ comments via the NHDC portal. The deadline was Friday 7th May but you might still be able to comment by sending an email to Tom Rea Tom.Rea@north-herts.gov.uk Please submit your comments asap. The Parish Council meeting on Weds 28th April discussed the proposal and objected to it.
Here is the link to the planning application on the NHDC website. https://pa2.north-herts.gov.uk/online-applications/
It is important that everyone gives their own personal views but feel free to use information from the points below, which include planning policy objections. It is important not to cut and paste but to use your own words, for instance if everyone uses the phrase ‘Trojan Horse’ it will look like you have been given a script to regurgitate! We recommend you write your comments as a word document, copy and then paste into the portal to avoid time-out.
If you wish your comments to be confidential you can email them direct to the Case Officer at NHDC : Tom Rea Tom.Rea@north-herts.gov.uk
Here is an example of a personalised opening paragraph which could be followed by any or all of the points below in your own words:
As a resident of Kimpton, I wish to voice my strong objection to the planning application referenced above. My family and I moved to the village in 1989. Both I and my husband were regular users of the White Horse until its closure, visiting for meals and for various social occasions. On average I expect we made use of the pub's hospitality about 5 or 6 times a month… etc
• The planning proposal is for Change of Use from Public House to Mixed Use/Residential. Only approximately 16% of the proposed plan is for pub use in the form of a micropub. The White Horse is listed by NHDC as an Asset of Community Value, renewed as recently as August 2020, demonstrating that NHDC considered there was future viability for the White Horse as a full service pub with dining. The proposed micropub would clearly not fulfil this need. This Change of Use would be contrary to the spirit of the National Planning Policy Framework which protects services in rural areas and valued community facilities (Paragraphs 83 and 92).
• A significant concern is that this is a Trojan Horse application. That is, the applicant has presented a scheme which is supposed to preserve the White Horse's use as a pub but the intention is for a complete conversion to residential at a later time. The Trojan Horse phenomenon has been recognised by many planning authorities, including the Planning Inspectorate, in refusing permission for similar mixed use schemes. The consequence of permitting this scheme would ultimately be to deprive the community of a hospitality venue of value to the whole of the Kimpton community, contrary to policy.
• The owner has not demonstrated in evidence that the White Horse is not viable as a public house. No figures have been produced showing its trading history, nor has any account been taken of how the premises might operate in its present unchanged form. You may be familiar with the Red Lion at Preston which was taken into community ownership many years ago and in which form it flourishes to the present day. There is no reason why Kimpton residents should not do the same.
• The Save Our White Horse community group has spent considerable time and effort since the pub was closed, in attempting to reinstate it as a community facility. Local operators have expressed a keen interest in running the White Horse, including the CEO of Farr Brew brewery in Wheathampstead, who has publicly expressed a willingness to operate the White Horse as a full service public house (food, drinks, events) to a similar high standard as the Elephant & Castle, another Farr Brew brewery enterprise.
• The village does have another public house, the Boot which performs a valuable service to the community but does not meet the needs of all of Kimpton's residents. It caters for those who like to watch sport on their large TV, and has a different feel to that of the White Horse which is a more traditional country pub. A renewed White Horse would complement the service offered by the Boot. In the light of capacity restrictions due to Covid and the upcoming planned growth in housing in the village, there needs to be an expansion of facilities in the village.
• The scale of the works required to the listed building to convert the premises to its assortment of new uses is unjustified in terms of both planning policy and the Listed Buildings Act 1990. Since the change of use is of no benefit to the community, the works themselves in the Listed Building Application, which accompanies the Change of Use application, ought also to be refused.
• Over the last few years the population of the village has grown, with the addition of new housing, and more proposed, so the need to keep valuable community assets intact is paramount. Coronavirus has also led to many more Kimpton residents working from home, so the need to retain facilities is even more important.
Here are some additional points which you might like to make when registering your objection.
The application is asking for a change of use for residential and offices for the main part of the building, including where the bar and tables were before it closed.
The planning application is asking for the actual pub space to become a house, with just the left hand section, where the toilets are, to become a micropub.
There seems to be very little space for dining tables. Therefore there is no intention of creating the pub with food that residents have asked for on surveys and that the village very much needs.
We are unaware who would run this micropub and are unaware of any business plan showing how it could possibly be a commercial success. It would be highly vulnerable to be run in such a way that it’s failure would guarantee planning permission for change of use to an entirely residential dwelling.
The planning application as it stands is therefore of no benefit to the community, and is not in accordance with its status as an ACV(Asset of Community Value).
We have had extensive talks over the past months with NHDC and our parliamentary representative Bim Afolami who supports our aims to regain the White Horse as a community asset. With the help of interested parties we hope to secure the future of the White Horse for the benefit of the village.
It is important for Kimpton residents who want the pub to re-open as a viable business with a food offering to make their views known. Please go onto the NHDC planning portal to have your say:
Thank you for your continued support
Please quote the following reference: 21/01018/FP on all correspondence, and submit your comments by Friday 7th May 2021
For further information or to pledge your support, please contact SOWH (Save Our White Horse) by email at
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We have set up a Go Fund Me Page to help out with our costs for fighting this application. If you are able to help in any way, no matter how small, please go to