A former pub which is destined to become flats is set to lose its "community value" status.

Hertsmere Borough Council says the Royal Oak in Bushey "no longer satisfies the test to be considered as an asset of community value".

In England, an asset of community value is land or property of importance to a local community which is subject to additional protection from development under the Localism Act 2011.

Land and buildings can be considered assets of community value if it can be proven the use "furthers the social wellbeing or interests of the community".

The Royal Oak in Sparrow's Herne was listed as an asset of community value for at least five years by the council in July 2019 after a nomination in March that year from the Friends of the Royal Oak, particularly because of the pub's offering of live music and quizzes.

But since that listing, the Royal Oak has closed (January 2020), and separate planning applications have been granted to convert the building into six or seven flats.

The proposal for seven flats was granted in March this year by the Planning Inspectorate after the applicants Setha Sparrow Lane Ltd appealed the council's refusal decision.

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Now, council papers published this month state the council received two pieces of correspondence from Setha's solicitors in July this year seeking the removal of the Royal Oak from the list of assets of community value.

Council officers have been considering the request and concluded that it is appropriate to agree to the request.

One of the reasons include that the former pub is "out of the reach of any community interest group", having been listed on the market for £1.25 million this year.

Another reason, following advice from a counsel, was the "high probability" the site will be converted into flats - Government regulations state residence cannot be land of community value.

The council says if the "facts" indicate the Royal Oak is no longer of community value, it is "duty bound" to remove it from the list and a decision not do so would be "susceptible to judicial review".

Regulations also state the Secretary of State has the power to remove assets of community value from a list.

Officers concluded in the report: "It was no longer realistic to consider that the current primary use of the Royal Oak Public House would continue to further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community in future or be likely to so within the next five years."

The decision is expected to be ratified by members of the council's Executive committee at a meeting on Tuesday (September 14).

When the Royal Oak closed in 2020, it was met with sadness by those who live in Bushey.

Natalie Tebbitts, who helped fight the closure, said at the time: "The local community was devastated to hear about the unexpected closure of the Royal Oak and saddened for friendly staff who lost their jobs.

"We can only hope that the premises will soon be occupied again to give us back the community asset we have been fighting so hard for for the last two years and avoid us having to witness the property be left to rot, be vandalised or taken over by squatters."

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