What are you proposing?
Restoration and reconfiguration of The Honest Miller, allowing it to operate as a successful pub and restaurant
Use of the outbuilding (coach house) as a holiday let, providing further income to support the pub
4 new, traditionally-designed family houses in the grounds
Who currently owns the pub?
The pub is owned by the Churchill Property Group.
What is your background/experience in running pubs and restaurants?
Simon has invested and developed multiple mixed use sites and owned hotels/pubs/offices/shops/industrial space and homes over many years.
Pat has been agent, acquisition and developer of hotels and pubs for over 30 years with specialist knowledge and expertise in delivering pubs and restaurants.
Why did you buy the pub, given the difficulties it has faced?
We know the area well and have good friends locally. Although it has suffered in the recent past, The Honest Miller is a beautiful, historic building in a fantastic location. We believe that with our passion and expertise, coupled with the right design, we can give The Honest Miller a new lease of life.
Have you carried out any repair or restoration works since buying the pub?
Yes, in spite of the delays and difficulties resulting from Covid, we have maintained the grounds and gardens throughout our ownership and have maintained the security measures, with frequent visits to check on the site.
We have prevented any squatters or other parties entering or creating any issues on the site and we have not proceeded with implementing the ‘glamping’ use of the paddock for which planning permission already exists.
What guarantees are there that the pub will not simply be converted into a house in the future?
Anyone who wanted to convert the pub into a house would need to apply for planning permission to do this.
In any case, our full intention is to bring forward a scheme that will create a thriving, financially-viable pub business. The supporting development of new homes is critical in helping to fund the restoration and conversion works that will be needed to bring the pub back into successful operation.
What will you do if you don’t get planning permission for the proposed houses?
The new homes are a vital component of the overall project, as they will generate the funding that the pub needs. We are committed to working constructively with local people and the council to give our plans the best chance of securing planning permission.
What discussions have you had with Ashford Borough Council?
We have had a number of pre-application meetings with Ashford Borough Council’s planning department and have also spoken with local elected representatives.
What is the council’s policy on building new houses on this site?
Like all local authorities, Ashford Borough Council has been set demanding house-building targets by central government and currently lacks a five-year housing supply. Our proposals will make a contribution towards much-needed new homes while enabling the re-opening of The Honest Miller.
Will the new homes be affordable?
As a small development, our plans would not generate an affordable housing contribution.
The new homes will be advertised locally and sold at local market prices. The homes are proposed in a range of sizes, and two of them will be fully wheelchair-accessible.
If your plans go ahead, when is the soonest the pub could re-open?
This really depends on how long the council takes to make a decision on granting planning permission. If the local community support our plans, we are hopeful that the pub could re-open before the end of 2021.
Will you operate the pub yourselves, or sell it on to a landlord/operator?
This point is still yet to be finalised, but the design has been developed in discussion with a successful local operator and the intention is that the re-opened pub will be owner-operated.
Would you consider selling the pub to local people, to run as a community venture
We are keen to see this venture through ourselves: we believe we have the right experience and the right team to make The Honest Miller a successful business.
How many parking spaces will there be?
There will be around 25-30 car parking spaces for the pub.
Each house will have at least 2 parking spaces.
Will the pub have holiday accommodation?
Yes, we plan to sympathetically convert the historic coach house into a fantastic holiday let, which will provide further income for the pub.
Who makes the decision on the application?
Ashford Borough Council’s planning team will analyse all the application documents and plans that will be submitted as part of the application. All these will be available to view on the council’s website once the application has been submitted.
The summary of their analysis will be presented to a group of elected councillors – the Planning Committee. At a meeting open to the public, they will hear a summary of the application from the planning officers and will also hear from supporters and objectors. They will then decide whether or not the application should be approved.
The meeting will either be online or in person depending on the situation at the time.
When will the application be submitted to the council and when will the decision be made?
We expect to submit the application in the next few weeks. The council are expected to take up to 13 weeks to make a decision on the application.
Will the building works be noisy?
Modern construction methods tend to be less noisy than in the past. Whilst there will inevitably be some disturbance, the working hours will be agreed in advance and limited by the council.
I am unable to make the online Q&A sessions. Will there be an opportunity to view them at a later date?
Yes, the online Q&A sessions will be made available on this website shortly after the final event.
Are there any other ways I can have my say on the proposals?
Yes, please call our freephone number 0800 955 1042 between 9am and 5.30pm, Monday-Friday. You can also email us at [email protected]
Ashford Borough Council will also hold their own statutory consultation, following the submission of a planning application.