Pub owner hopes popularity wins over council planners

Withy Arms, Leyland
Withy Arms, Leyland

A Leyland pub owner who carried out a major refurbishment without planning permission is hoping the public’s positive responses will sway the council to grant him retrospective approval.

The former Roebuck on Worden Lane, near the Leyland Cross, was taken over by Lee Forshaw and Alan Burdett, who own the Withy Arms in Bamber Bridge, after a five-month closure in December.

Work has been done to create a new look at the pub, which is now also called the Withy Arms, including paint-work, a bigger kitchen and an outside dining area.

Mr Forshaw acknowledges he has broken planning regulations in doing the work in the conservation area before getting permission, but says he only did it in the hope of getting backing from the public and the council.

“I think they can sometimes have a ‘no’ policy at the council,” he said. “I wanted to extend the Withy Arms in Bamber Bridge but they wouldn’t allow me, so I’ve done it this way round in Leyland.

“People can see how nice it is for the community, and how good it is for the local economy. It’s much better than it would have come across on paper. Things are going exceptionally well at the Leyland pub and we’ve got a lot of support from the public.

“There have been some really positive comments on the TripAdvisor website.

“It’s very busy and it’s very much a community pub, which is what we wanted, so I think the council will see that it’s a good thing for the area.”

He has now submitted a retrospective planning application to South Ribble Council, and a decision is set to be made at a delegated level by council planning officers.

The planning documents state: “Ribble Brewery Ltd have purchased the Roebuck with a view to change the theme of the pub from a music drinking venue to a family friendly dining public house.

“They plan to renovate the interior of the pub to bring it in line with the high specifications of their other venues.

“The front elevation is to be given a facelift with new signage to reflect the change in name to the Withy Arms.

“A larger kitchen will be created to serve a good choice of food to customers; a flue for extraction purposes at the rear of the pub will be provided.

“The rear of the pub will be rendered and painted to match the front.

“The raised seating area will be renovated to provide booth seating for diners.”