SAVE OUR VILLAGE PUB!
© Save the Cabinet Action Group 2023
“We’re naturally delighted and hugely
relieved that Members of the Council
demonstrated their good judgement and
turned down this deeply unwelcome
proposal to convert the last pub in our
village into a house.
“There’s a long way to go, but we think
this is a hugely important step on the way
to getting our pub back.
“We hope now that North Herts District
Council will follow the example of other
local authorities and properly enforce the
law. They should require the developer
to restore The Cabinet to its former state
as a pub, as it was before he made his
alterations in clear breach of planning
Chair, Save the Cabinet Action Group
21 July 2017
Developer has 6 months to appeal
After the heady days of summer when we were
celebrating refusal of permission for change of use -
a key milestone in getting our pub back - we now
have to wait for the developer at The Cabinet to
decide whether to appeal. He has no less than 6
months from notification of the decision to lodge an
appeal - so it could be as late as January before we
know the position.
The planning authority, North Herts District Council,
have said they will wait for any appeal before
making a decision on the two applications for
retrospective listed building consent.
If there is an appeal the Campaign will naturally
resist it, but we will need professional advice and
Appeals in cases like this usually involve a hearing which
is open to the public. They are heard by a planning
inspector who is independent of the local planning
authority and will look at the case as from the beginning.
The Action Group will make a compelling case for the
refusal of retrospective planning permission and listed
building consent, and we are confident of a fair hearing by
the planning inspector.
Meanwhile we are in contact with potential private buyers
and others who are ready to move to acquire The Cabinet
at a fair price and put it back into pub use, assuming the
various consents are refused - or once the developer
realises that by persisting with his application he is
throwing good money after bad.
New application for listed building consent
A matter of days before the planning committee
meeting on 20 July, the developer submitted an
additional retrospective listed building application. It
relates to “retention” (a word which means the work
has already been done without the permission
required) of vaulted ceilings o n the first floor and
above the “games room”. The latter is better known to
Cabinet supporters as the beer cellar.
The Action Group takes the view that following refusal
of planning permission for change of use, anything
inconsistent with the future of The Cabinet as a pub
should be automatically refused.
No reason for the application being retrospective has
been given by the applicant. What’s more, the
application remains incomplete, given that the
building’s heritage is as a pub. The bar has been
removed, as well as the kitchen and WCs. The latter
may have no heritage value in themselves, but affect
the building’s status as a pub. No reference has
been made in the application to lifting the tiled floor.
The original listed building application was linked
directly to the application for change of use. Given
refusal by the Council of planning permission for
change of use, it is surprising that the accompanying
listed building application did not effectively lapse.
As matters stand it remains to be determined.
A written objection has now been submitted on
behalf of the Action Group.
The decision on 20 July of North Herts Councillors to
refuse planning permission for change of use was
great news, and the campaign to save The Cabinet
negotiated its first major hurdle.
But nobody should assume that’s the end of the
battle. There’s a long way to go yet before Reed’s
pub could reopen.
The developer has the right of appeal, and we
confidently expect him to exercise it. He has 6
months to decide whether to appeal.
If he does, it is likely to be some further months
before an appeal is determined.
An appeal can be decided on paper, but in a
contentious case like this it is more likely to be
taken as a hearing, to which the public is admitted.
Interest groups, such as the Save the Cabinet Action
Group, can ask to be heard, and it is normal for
such requests to be granted.
The Action Group is advised by Dale Ingram, an
experienced planning and heritage consultant with
an excellent track record in this area. Dale will
represent us at any such hearing.
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We have also been assisted by Anthony Miller, a
charted surveyor with particular expertise in the
licensed leisure sector.
If the appeal is refused, the developer would be
unable to sell The Cabinet as a house. We would
hope, at that point, that he would accept that the
game was up and market the property.
In any event, we would expect the planning
authority, North Hertfordshire District Council, to
take firm enforcement action at that point.
Photo courtesy of Clive Porter
Reed Parish Council to consult on whether to
borrow to buy The Cabinet
Reed Parish Council has decided to hold a public
meeting to gauge views on whether, in principle, it
should borrow money to buy The Cabinet, as an
additional option to save it as a pub. The meeting will
take place on Wednesday 29 November at 8pm at Reed
Village Hall. This is a welcome initiative and we
encourage supporters to attend.
All this presupposes a successful outcome to the
planning case - see above and below - but if villagers
support the idea, the Parish Council could apply for
permission, or “borrowing approval”, from the
Department for Communities and Local Government
(DCLG) to borrow money from a government body
known as the Public Works Loan Board. Such a loan
would be at fixed, low interest rates and over an
A number of parish councils countrywide have taken
this step in order to preserve their local pubs.
Were the Parish Council to buy the building, it would
expect to recruit a tenant to run the pub and look after
it on a day-to-day basis. The expectation is that rental
paid by the tenant would exceed the monthly
repayments and generate a modest profit.
Purchase by the Parish Council is only one of three
possible routes towards saving the pub. The first route
would be purchase by a private buyer - and the Save
the Cabinet Action Group has been in discussions with
one interested party who is passionate about the pub
and very keen for it to reopen.
A second route would be purchase by a group of
individuals, perhaps in the form of a co-operative.
It makes sense, from the perspective of the Action Group,
to keep all options open, so the move by the Parish Council
potentially to open up this third route is a welcome one.
The Public Works Loan Board is a government department
which manages money on behalf of HM Treasury. Local
authorities, including parish councils, can borrow money
for specific purposes - but only if they have “borrowing
approval” from DCLG.
Obtaining such approval is no formality. Councils have to
demonstrate a business plan for repaying the loan, and
support of their electors for taking it out in the first place.
But once approval is given, councils can obtain the money
quickly when it is needed.
Nothing would prevent a parish council which acquired a pub
in this manner selling it, for example to a tenant or manager,
and paying off the loan early, should that be judged the right
course at some future stage.
An example of a pub purchased for the community in this
way is the Beauchamp Arms in Dymock, Gloucs, which has
just celebrated its 20th anniversary as a community pub.
Another example is the Dolphin at Bishampton. Read about
the approach in that local parish here. Read more about The
Dolphin here and do not believe their website, to which
current management do not have access.
You can also read about Government encouragement to
parish councils to act to save struggling pubs and shops.
Read Pub is the Hub’s description of purchase by a parish
council with a Public Works Loan. It’s taken from their more
comprehensive guide to community ownership of pubs,
which you can read here.
Detailed guidance on borrowing by parish councils is here.
A lively and detailed discussion took place at the well-
attended meeting on 29 November, and various
important questions were considered about the principle
of applying for borrowing approval, and the practical
consequences should the matter of a loan be followed
through. A show of hands showed overwhelming
support among those at the meeting for the Parish
Council seeking approval.
In the light of the discussions Reed Parish Council
initiated a written village survey giving all residents the
opportunity to say whether they approved of the idea of
the Parish Council borrowing money to purchase The
Action group members interviewed by Le Monde
Three members of the Save The Cabinet Action Group
were recently interviewed by the London correspondent
of the Paris-based Le Monde, for a feature on the
challenges faced by the British pub.
Philippe Bernard visited Reed and the interview took place
in the Sword in Hand at Westmill.
We are keeping an eye open for the article, but it’s great
that our campaign is gaining an international profile.
Village survey demonstrates large majority in
support of loan proposal
Following the public meeting in November on whether
they should apply for borrowing authority from the
Department for Communities, Housing and Local
Government, the first step in taking out a loan to buy
the pub, Reed Parish Council conducted a village survey
asking Reed residents whether they supported the idea.
In results announced at the start of February, 82% of
those surveyed approved of the idea with 10% against
and 8% undecided. The return rate for the survey was
Commenting on the result, Mike Howes, Chair of the
Save the Cabinet Action Group, said: “We welcomed
Reed Parish Council’s initiative to see if there is public
support for buying
the pub on behalf of the community and are delighted
by the strong show of support for the idea. We know
of interest from a potential private buyer and a local
consortium, but this would provide a new option for
reopening The Cabinet as a pub.“
In practice, the Parish Council would only contemplate
taking out a loan if The Cabinet came on the market
and there was no alternative way of saving it as a pub.
And before any of that happens, we need to resist the
developer’s appeal against refusal of planning
permission for change of use.
Appeal against planning refusal lodged
We have just (17 Nov) learned that the developer who
owns The Cabinet has lodged his appeal against
refusal of planning permission for change of use. The
fact that he has appealed comes as no surprise.
The appeal now needs to be formally validated by the
Planning Inspectorate, a process which can take up to
No timetable for the appeal has yet been published,
but any hearing is likely to take place in the spring,
possibly later. Once we and our experts have the
documents, work can start on making a strong case
for resisting it.
But we need to raise money quickly to enable us to
resist the appeal in the most thorough and
professional way we can. We will be launching a
new fundraising campaign in the new year.
Campaign launches petition to ensure an open and
The Save the Cabinet Action group has launched a
petition to the Planning Inspectorate to make sure that
the developer’s appeal is heard by way of a hearing or
an inquiry, and not just on the papers.
The Planning Inspectorate is the body, independent of
North Herts District Council, which hears appeals on
planning decisions. Appeals can be dealt with by way
of a written procedure, by way of a hearing (at which all
parties can be represented) or an inquiry (a more
formal procedure, in the course of which evidence is
given on oath and the parties are often represented by
The Action Group takes the view that the level of local
interest in the case of The Cabinet, the disputed
evidence submitted to the Planning Committee, and
the approach taken by planning officers (including a
report described by the Chair of the Action group as
“shockingly biased”) makes a hearing or an inquiry
The petition argues that this case is an important test
of the planning system – not only in relation to how it
protects community assets such as pubs, but also as to
how it deals with unscrupulous developers who
deliberately ignore the requirements of planning law in
the hope of maximising their profit. It is essential that
the appeal is dealt with transparently and openly, with
a proper opportunity for interested parties to make
representations and for the Planning Inspector to
examine all the evidence in detail.
Developer’s appeal goes live
The developer who owns The Cabinet lodged his
appeal against refusal of planning permission for
change of use some months ago. After a lengthy
period of “validation” the appeal is now live.
We expect anyone who submitted written
representations to receive formal notification of the
appeal from North Hertfordshire District Council within
days, and to have the opportunity to make
representations in response to the appeal.
The first step will be to persuade the Planning
Inspectorate to hold a hearing or an inquiry, rather
than to deal with the matter on paper. Appeals
usually start as “written procedure”, but can be made
into an hearing if there is sufficient public interest or if
the evidence in the case is complex - as is the case
here. Our petition to the Planning Inspectorate has
now been submitted (though you can still sign it in
case additional weight is needed later).
It’s important that supporters make
representations too. Advice as to how to do so is
on this page.
Public Inquiry into Cabinet planning decision
The day after the Planning Inspectorate announced it
had upgraded the appeal in the case of The Cabinet to
a hearing, we learned that they have upgraded it still
further. It will now take the form of a Public Inquiry -
the most formal and thorough procedure for dealing
with planning appeals. Initially we had been informed
that the appeal would be dealt with via the “written
procedure”. We can now look forward to the evidence
in the case being examined in detail during a court-like
procedure involving evidence on oath and lawyers on
all sides. The decision demonstrates the importance
and significance attached to the case.
The Action Group welcomes this. It would have been a
travesty if a case which had attracted so much interest
had been dealt with behind closed doors.
The intervention of Sir Oliver Heald MP (who wrote to
the Planning Inspectorate), the Action Group’s recent
petition (which attracted over 1400 signatures online
and in hard copy), the large volume of written
objections and the strength of feeling expressed in the
debate in the Council last July will all have contributed
to this outcome.
No date has yet been fixed for the Inquiry. However
we have now learned that the Planning Inspectorate
will re-start the timetable for the appeal - so there will
be a further opportunity to submit comments and a
new set of deadlines. Our current thinking is that the
Inquiry itself will take place in the autumn.
It’s important to remember that this is just a small
step on the road to rescuing our lovely old pub. The
focus now needs to turn to the substance of the
appeal itself, and making sure we achieve the right
We also need to raise several thousand pounds
urgently in order to meet the costs - including legal
costs - of resisting the appeal effectively. If you can
spare a few pounds, now would be a good time to
New deadlines for comments on the appeal
As previously announced, the Planning Inspectorate
has restarted the timetable for the appeal.
Comments from interested parties - including
supporters and the Save the Cabinet Action Group
itself - must now be submitted by 14 June. See the
panel opposite for advice as to how to do so.
Meanwhile, in an important procedural step, the
Action Group has been granted what is known as
“Rule 6 status”. This means the Group has the same
status as the developer and the Council, including
the right to appoint a lawyer.
Dates confirmed for Public Inquiry
The Planning Inspectorate has confirmed that the Public
Inquiry will take place over three days from Tuesday 6 to
Thursday 8 November at the Council offices at
Three days are considered necessary because of the time needed to hear expert evidence.
Inquiries usually include a period for interested parties such as members of the public to speak to set out their
concerns normally on the final day - in this case, 8 November.
The Action Group is asking supporters to put the dates in diaries now.
We recognise that it’s a long way off and that for many the Inquiry will take
place during working hours, but we will need as many supporters as can to
attend. This can really help influence the Inspector by demonstrating the
level of community support for the campaign - and could really make a
difference to the overall result.
Battle lines drawn as appeal deadline passes
The deadline for submissions to the Planning Inspectorate expired on 14 June. The Save the Cabinet Action
Group has been granted “Rule 6 status”, which means it has the same status as the other parties and can call
expert evidence. The Group has submitted its statement of case, and we know NHDC has done so too. We expect
these to become public documents in the coming days, so watch this space for further news.
We also know that many supporters have written to the Planning Inspectorate and we would like to thank
everyone for doing so.
We now need to turn our focus back to funding the appeal. News of more events will be available soon.
Meanwhile, remember you can support us here!
Public Inquiry provisionally set for November
The parties to the appeal - the appellant (i.e. the developer who owns the pub), the District Council and the Save the
Cabinet Action group - have all agreed on a dates of 6-8 November for what is expected to be a three-day public
inquiry. Provided a Planning Inspector can be allocated to the case for those dates, that is when the appeal will take
Whilst we might have preferred to move ahead with the case more quickly, we do accept that a major event such as
a public inquiry requires considerable preparation on all sides. The Action Group will use the time, with our
advisers, to piece together the best possible case in favour of preserving our lovely old pub.
We will publish more news when we have it. Meanwhile, we are asking supporters to put the dates in their diaries.
We will need a good turnout of supporters when the inquiry takes place.
New funding appeal as decisive autumn approaches
The campaign to save the 400-year-old Cabinet at Reed enters a decisive phase this autumn.
In July 2017, retrospective planning permission for change of use was refused by North Herts councillors. Unsurprisingly, the developer
appealed. Earlier this year, the Action Group launched a petition designed to make sure the appeal was held in public and not in writing, which
attracted about 1500 signatures. This – plus the intervention of the local MP – persuaded the Planning Inspectorate to upgrade the appeal to a
Public Inquiry. That’s good news in that it means all the evidence will be brought out in detail – and the Action Group think they have a strong
case for saving the pub.
That Inquiry will be held at Letchworth on 6-8 November, and the Action Group is asking as many people as possible to attend and support
Less good news is that these sorts of procedures are formal and expensive, and the campaign to save the pub needs urgently to raise money
to pay for a lawyer and expert witnesses. Edwin Kilby, vice-chair of the Action Group, said, “The developer who owns the pub will undoubtedly
be represented by an expensive lawyer. We need a lawyer too, otherwise it would be like marching naked into the lion’s den.” Various
activities have proved successful at raising funds but at the time of writing there was still a shortfall.
So we are asking all supporters please to give what the can to the Fighting Fund. The easiest way to do so is online via JustGiving.
Public Inquiry closes after three-day hearing
After three days, which included statements from members of the public, intense cross-examination over some fairly
technical legal issues and questions concerning planning policy, heritage and viability, the Inquiry dealing with the
developer’s appeal against refusal of planning permission for change of use concluded on time.
The Planning Inspector who heard the case and will make the decision in due course also undertook a site visit to The
Cabinet, remarking afterwards how pleasant and sunny it had been.
No less than 42 supporters attended the first day of the Inquiry on Tuesday 6 November, and a strong contingent
attended the second and third days, too. The Action Group would like to thank everyone who attended.
At the close, the Inspector added that he expected to make a decision in “weeks, rather than months”. We hope to have a
clearer idea of timing next week.
We think our team of lawyers and experts made a strong case, supporting North Herts District Council who also robustly
defended the appeal. We have been saying for some time that we expect common sense will prevail, and that remains
Cross your fingers, everyone!
Campaign reaches its climax as Public Inquiry opens
The planning appeal concerning The Cabinet will be heard by way of a Public Inquiry opening on Tuesday 6 and due to finish on
Thursday 8 November. It will be held at the Council Offices, Letchworth.
The Save the Cabinet Action Group is asking supporters to attend if they possibly can. We know many people have expressed
interest in speaking - please be aware that if you wish to speak you will need to be present at the start - 10 am on Tuesday 6.
It is most unlikely that the decision will be given during the Inquiry. The normal procedure is for the Inspector to leave the hearing,
consider his findings and publish a decision some weeks later.
That decision will effectively determine the future of the pub. If the developer who owns the property wins his appeal, Reed will
have lost its last pub forever. If the appeal is dismissed, however, it will be a huge step towards reclaiming The Cabinet for the
We think we have a good case and are confident that good sense will prevail. We have been overwhelmed by the huge support for
the campaign over the last two years and would like to thank everyone who has supported us as we go into this pivotal week.
The end of the appeal will not mean the end of the campaign. We still need to raise funds and events are being contemplated
between now and New Year - watch this space, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter, for more information.
Planning appeal decision expected before Christmas
The Planning Inspectorate, which oversees planning appeals, has announced that the decision following the
Public Inquiry into refusal of planning permission in the case of The Cabinet will be published on or before 21
If, as the campaign hopes, the appeal is dismissed, it’s important that North Herts District Council takes
immediate and effective enforcement action to protect the building and prevent it being used as a residence.
Two retrospective applications for listed building consent also need to be determined without further delay.
Meanwhile, the Action Group has published a summary of its accounts which show that after paying its bills
the group has a shortfall of £2,000. New events, including a New Year Pop-up Pub Night, are planned. The
JustGiving page remains open for donations, with a reduced target.