jhd Architects Gain Consent To Convert A Listed Kent Pub Building Into Two Homes 'Against All Odds'

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The White Horse Inn in the Kent village of Hurst Green is to be converted into two houses thanks to a strong business case submitted to Tunbridge Wells Planning Department by Benenden- and Sevenoaks-based jhd Architects Tim Ball and Jon Hughes

Kent Contemporary Architect Tim Ball

Kent Contemporary Architect Tim Ball

We would be happy to advise any other owners or agents looking to obtain change of use for listed pubs, and invite them to contact us if they think we can help.

jhd Architects has obtained planning permission to change the use of The White Horse Inn so that it can be converted into two houses. This is quite an achievement given the responsibilities placed on councils by the 2012 national planning policy framework (NPPF) to promote local pubs, preserve the social and economic value they represent and guard against their unnecessary loss.

However, in the case of The White Horse Inn, despite the best efforts of the owners, and the support of a small, loyal clientele, the location of this late-19th century coaching inn on the A21 just outside Hurst Green made it commercially unviable. Too far from the village for locals to walk too and too noisy for patrons to enjoy the outdoor space, it has struggled for some time. "We have worked so hard to build this business, and are very sad to give it up. But it just wasn't possible to make it work. We will miss it, and all the people who have worked with us, and enjoyed eating and drinking here over the years," says owner Antony Panic, adding: "jhd Architects has done a fantastic job and we are very grateful to Tim Ball for his professionalism, knowledge and sound advice."

Commissioned in October 2012 to develop a case to convert the pub into two new homes, jhd Architects assessed the planning issues, advised the owners on how best to approach the planning authority and met with the client's accountants. Having reviewed all the details, the local planning authority agreed that, despite every effort to turn the business around, not least to protect local jobs, the specific circumstances applying to The White Horse meant that there was no future for the pub and that change of use should be granted.

jhd Architects' Director Tim Ball has already been approached by the owners of other pubs in difficulty. " Many Kent listed buildings are used as pubs, and when change of use is granted particular care must be taken to respect their architectural heritage whilst making them fit for 21st century living. Whilst we are strong supporters of the government's policy to promote and protect community pubs wherever possible, we also recognise that some pubs just aren't viable and an alternative suitable use needs to be found for the building."

The White Horse Inn has important historical features, including rendered walls, sash windows, a tile-hung first floor and slate roof which are typical of Kent listed buildings. These will need to be sympathetically retained as part of the conversion to two connected houses.

The latest figures show that pubs are closing at rate of 18 establishments a week, leading CAMRA's chief executive to remark that the future of Britain's valued community pubs is "in jeopardy". Battling diversifying consumer trends and competition from tea rooms, restaurants, coffee shops, wine bars and other food and drink establishments, it is just not possible for some pubs, such as The White Horse, to remain viable.

Now that planning permission for change of use has been obtained, the pub will be put up for sale through Cranbrook-based Harpers & Hurlingham. An independently owned boutique style estate agency looking after clients and property in Kent and East Sussex, and in London through its association with Harpers and Harrison (Kensington), Harpers & Hurlingham handles a wide sales and lettings portfolio, including country manor houses, farms, barns (converted and unconverted), oasthouses and contemporary houses. They are open seven days a week, and can be contacted on 01580 715400.

Says Tim Ball: "We are delighted to have helped our client gain consent to convert The White Horse Inn, as well as encouraged by the professionalism and pragmatism of the Tunbridge Wells Planning Department. We would be happy to advise any other owners or agents looking to obtain change of use for listed pubs, and invite them to contact us if they think we can help".


jhd Architects is a RIBA Chartered practice with offices in Sevenoaks and Benenden, Kent, UK which specialises in contemporary architecture. It is one of very few architectural practices in the South East of England using Building Information Modelling (BIM) to produce 3D models and designs for contemporary new houses, extensions, listed building projects, swimming pools and outdoor living spaces and commercial schemes for private clients in Kent, Sussex and surrounding towns and villages. BIM saves clients time and money and can improve the probability of obtaining planning permission. Current projects in Kent include an brand new eco-house in Orpington, the conversion of a listed coach house in Chislehurst, the alteration of a four-storey terraced town-house in Tunbridge Wells and a redevelopment in a Conservation Area in central Sevenoaks. The practice actively supports the local community by, for example, arranging visits and talks on design and architecture for MidKent College design and carpentry students. For examples of their unique designs see their portfolio of architectural projects.

jhd Architects
+ 44 (0)1580 243070
Stepneyford Lane
Benenden, Cranbrook
Kent TN17 4BW (UK)

This press release was prepared by Bobrow Consulting Group (http://www.bobrow.com) for jhd Architects. BCG works with building design professionals to build their business by optimizing their online strategy, teaching marketing for architecture firms as well as offering web design and SEO consulting services.

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Sue Ball
jhd Architects
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