PUBLISHED: 08:13 27 August 2017
Heritage experts have inspected a former village pub to see whether the building is of sufficient historical interest to be worth listing.
It is nine months since the Lord Nelson in Cleeve served its final customers, but the future of the building is far from clear.
New owner, Tout Ltd, wishes to build a petrol station, food store, hairdressers, offices and a café/pub, although many villagers do not like the plan.
Cleeve Parish Council, backed by campaigners, have sought to get the pub building listed and the move has angered Tout. If it is listed, development possibilities for the site would be reduced.
Managing director Jon Tout said: “We were originally approached by the Lord Nelson campaign group shortly after we took possession of the site.
“During that meeting we asked what was most important to them – a ‘pub use’ being retained on the site or the retention of the existing building?
“We were told that the pub use was essential and they understood if the building needed to be changed or replaced.”
Mr Tout said the listing attempt had therefore come ‘out of the blue’ and was a shame after the firm had changed its plan to incorporate a pub-style establishment within its scheme.
English Heritage officials have met with Tout and been sent information by campaigners and the parish council. They will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport who will have the final say.
Campaigner Ian Fergusson though believes the building is of sufficient interest to be listed.
He said: “When the Lord Nelson was purchased by Tout Ltd it decided not to keep it as a going concern.
“That came as a great disappointment in a village where our pub has been open – in former 19th century and present 1936 guise – for some 200 years.
“Tout Ltd has engaged in helpful ongoing discussions about how a pub can remain there.
“However, villagers have united to oppose any scheme that involves razing their valued and iconic heritage asset: a talismanic interwar building within the architectural context of Cleeve and indeed along the former turnpike road from Bristol to Weston.”