Nags Head in Eastrea wins fight to stay open

PUNTERS have saved their beloved watering hole from being turned into housing.

Owners David Lepla and John Harris told regulars that the Nags Head would be demolished because all attempts to make the business viable had failed.

But their plan to convert the Grade II Listed Building into six two-bedroom homes was thwarted after more than 40 residents complained it would rip the heart out of the community.

A report by Fenland District Council said: “Rural pubs are not simply businesses. They can be vital community resources and key tourism assets.”

It also said destroying the venue to avoid financial loss is “not a reason to allow the conversion of the pub given the clear need shown by the community”.

Mr Lepla and Mr Harris said the pub in Eastrea, near Whittlesey lost �20,000 since reopening in 2007.

They protested that they “completely changed the image of the pub” and transformed it into “a typical village inn with character and atmosphere” to try and make it turn a profit.

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Yet despite that they said there was customer base of just 30 people and escalating costs,

However residents and the Campaign for Real Ale stood up for the pub, warning: “Once the pub is gone, it is lost to the community forever.”

In a Save Our Pub campaign letter, Claire Hammond said: “This pub is the beating heart of the community. If this disappears it will be a devastating loss.”

In the end council officers judged there was “no suggestion a new owner or tenant could not make the business viable”, despite dwindling revenues.

Planners added that the pub actually boasted “considerable income” but that it is “outweighed by the heavy overheads associated with the way the applicant has run the business”.

It added that costs could be lower if the owner was not making high mortgage payments and bumper salaries.

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