East Bedfordshire

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Red Lion, Biggleswade

Sunday 24 March 2024

Historic Red Lion Safe for Now

Those who love Biggleswade’s historic town centre breathed a sigh of relief when the Planning Inspector refused permission to turn the historic Red Lion pub into a private residence recently.

Following campaigning by the Biggleswade Town Council and the East Bedfordshire Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), the Inspector’s 6 February decision on the appeal by Elliott Builders was a reaffirmation of the important role pubs like the Red Lion play in the fabric of our local communities. Commenting on the appeal, the Inspector echoed CAMRA’s view that ‘it’s clear The Red Lion was of considerable value to the town’s residents’ before its untimely closure in 2019. He added that ‘the proposed change of use would have a harmful effect on the vitality and viability of the town centre’ and that as ‘a 17th century building of traditional construction’ the Red Lion ‘creates a sense of arrival to the town centre, along with its likely historic association as a coaching inn on the historic route of the Great North Road.’

Local CAMRA Chair, Barry Price, welcomed the decision and said that it was a vindication for local efforts to preserve a vital community asset. “I’m impressed by the thoroughness of the Planning Inspector’s report which amounts to a wholesale rejection of the grounds of appeal. What’s most important now is that Central Bedfordshire Council look carefully at the evidence of illegal alterations that have been made to the pub interior and that the owner makes these right. We know there’s been interest in returning the Red Lion to its role as a community pub so I hope that the next step will be to get it back on the market at a realistic price.”

Biggleswade Deputy Town Mayor, Mark Knight, added “The planning inspector’s decision to dismiss the developer’s appeal was crucial in securing The Red Lion. It sends an essential message to property developers who think they can make a quick profit by converting our town’s historic public houses to private dwellings without the required planning consent. I call on Enforcement Officers at Central Bedfordshire Council to use their powers to ensure the owner restores the architectural features that were damaged or destroyed without authorisation. The historic pubs of Biggleswade are vital community assets. While trading conditions are tough, Biggleswade has a growing population, and I believe the future is bright for the hospitality sector in our town.”

Notes 1. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) – camra.org.uk - has campaigned since 1971 to promote and protect beer, by actively supporting Britain’s pubs and breweries to get a better deal for beer drinkers.

2. The Red Lion has been shut since 2019 and the original planning permission application was rejected by the local planning authority in July 2022.  In its role as the voice for pubs and pub users in East Beds, East Bedfordshire CAMRA wrote in opposition to both that original proposal and to the current appeal.

3. The Planning Inspector’s Appeal Decision can be read in full at file:///C:/Users/Andrew/Downloads/Appeal%20Decision%20-%203313193%20&%203313199.pdf

4. Requests for further information about East Bedfordshire CAMRA’s opposition to the Red Lion appeal can be directed to Andrew McWhir, Pub Protection Officer at ku.gro.armacsdebtsae@sbup