Storm is brewing over future of village’s pub

Around 160 villagers at Oakley protest against plans to turn The Royal Oak pub into a house
Around 160 villagers at Oakley protest against plans to turn The Royal Oak pub into a house
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A BREWERY has been blasted by allegations that it is cynically running down a village pub in order to turn it into housing.

At a fraught Aylesbury Vale District Council planning meeting, The Vale Brewery Company was slammed over plans to turn The Royal Oak in Oakley – which has been closed for a year – into a home.

And the councillor representing the village claimed that extortionate rents had forced the pub to shut.

But an agent representing the firm denied the charges, and said the brewery had ploughed £90,000 into the business in six years in a bid to salvage it.

Planners agreed to defer the decision until they had more information about the value of the pub.

In an impassioned plea, villager Andy Finn complained that since it closed, crucial maintenance work had not been done, putting

buyers off. He also claimed a £495,000 valuation put forward in 2009 was too high.

Mr Finn said: “Are these the actions of people who are actively trying to put off prospective buyers, or is this a case of a business being cynically run down in an attempt to justify a change of use, to realise a

higher market value as a dwelling?

“I know what I believe.”

Local councillor Michael Rand, who told the committee that he has experience in the pub trade, blasted the £30,000 a year rent charged by the firm.

He said: “It’s far and away above market value.”

But agent Jake Collinge

told the committee the brewery had ploughed cash into the Worminghall Road watering hole.

After the meeting, he said: “It’s with a heavy heart they’ve conceded they can’t make it work.”

Councillor David Rowlands told members: “This is the situation across the country.”