Town pub closes to become art studio

Honest John Chatteris will not re-open as a pub

Honest John Chatteris will not re-open as a pub. Instead it will become art studio - Credit: Richard Savage

Paintings are to replace pints in a town pub that fell victim to the pandemic.  

The Honest John in South Park Street, Chatteris, has won planning consent for the change of use from Fenland Council.  

Richard Savage explained to planners, through his agent, that he had lived on site and ran the pub for 34 years.  

Five diverse artists exhibiting their work in an exhibition entitled, In the Mix, at March Town Hall

Five diverse artists exhibiting their work in an exhibition entitled, In the Mix, at March Town Hall.Artist. Richard Savage with one of his paintings. - Credit: Archant

In 2003 upstairs was divided to form an art studio and he now intends to live downstairs and use the entire upstairs as an art studio. 

"In recent times the pub started to struggle and has become financially unviable to reopen following easing of Covid 19 restrictions,” his agent said.  

Since he will continue to live there, the council agreed a marketing exercise to demonstrate he had tried to sell it was not needed. 

Planners felt this was not necessary “as the closure of the pub has not come about owing to the proposed change of use, but instead due to a lack of community support for the premises”. 

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They also felt that with it becoming an art studio, the site would continue to “a differing community facility to that of the pub.  

“Evidence has been provided relating to the popularity of the art studio and its interaction with the local community.  

“Whilst the loss of a public house is regrettable, the continued viability of a different local business is considered preferrable to its ultimate closure.  

“The retained art studio will offer continued employment to the proprietor and continued service to residents of Chatteris and the wider art community.” 

Chatteris town council also supported the change of use. 

Here's three photos from an exhibition held at the pub in recent years

Forthcoming exhibition at Savage Studios at the Honest John pub in Chatteris

Art exhibition at Savage Studios at the Honest John pub in Chatteris - Credit: Archant

Forthcoming exhibition at Savage Studios at the Honest John pub in Chatteris

Art exhibition at Savage Studios at the Honest John pub in Chatteris - Credit: Archant

exhibition at Savage Studios at the Honest John pub in Chatteris

Art exhibition at Savage Studios at the Honest John pub in Chatteris - Credit: Archant

Planners said car parking was ample and there were on objections from highways or other bodies which were consulted. 

Mr Savage has run his art studio for the past 21 years.  

He has published a number of art books and says his aim has always been to welcome and help artists from beginners through to improvers and professionals.  

Creating a studio that is a “relaxed and happy environment for everyone” has been his aim.  

To support the change of use, he showed the council extracts of his public house accounts from 2016 to 2019.  

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