Plan to demolish pub and replace with flats labelled ‘crazy’

The Royal Oak pub, formerly Jacobs Post on the Haywards heath to Ditchling road NEAR WIVELSFIELD on the B2112. Pics Steve Robards. SR1514524 SUS-150624-095344001
The Royal Oak pub, formerly Jacobs Post on the Haywards heath to Ditchling road NEAR WIVELSFIELD on the B2112. Pics Steve Robards. SR1514524 SUS-150624-095344001

Residents are describing a plan to turn a historic pub, into flats, as dangerous and ‘crazy’.

A planning application has gone into Lewes District Council, to demolish the Royal Oak Public House, in Ditchling Road, Ditchling Common, and create 12 new dwellings.

Many people have turned to social media to speak of their concerns over properties being built on a busy 60mph road with a sharp bend notorious for seeing motorists lose control and crash.

Danial Terry said on Facebook that the idea was ‘an accident waiting to happen, unless they bin the bend’.

Amanda Farrelly agreed and said: “12 Houses on that dreadful bend - a nasty accident waiting to happen! Mad. I have been in that pub when a car came round the bend and landed inches away from the door. The railings stopped it from hitting the pub! People have died just before the bend...think safety.”

The transport assessment report in the application’s associated documents raised no objection to the plan and said between 2010 and 2013 there were two slight injury accidents near the bend close.

It concluded: “The proposal is likely to lead to a ‘small increase in peak hour trips on the highway network. This likely to be around seven trips in the morning and evening peak hours which will not have a material impact on the current situation with adequate parking provided on site.

“Therefore, there are no unacceptable highway or transport impacts as a result of the proposed development.”

In response to this, Facebook user Caroline Davey-Miles, said: “This seems absolutely crazy! My parents live up the road from there and I am always driving along there, the bend is horrific and on one occasion my husband had to drive into the car park bit because some idiot literally came round the bend on the wrong side of the road and at speed, we had to stop safely because we both thought we had come to the end of our lives and were in complete shock!”

Mike Fernando, of Spinney Close, Hurstpierpoint, told the Middy he tried to buy the pub multiple times over three years but he was priced out.

His aim was to buy the property so he could keep it as the pub he has known and loved for so long. He planned to create a play area and B&B and had even created advanced plans.

He said: “I’ve been going there since 1973.

“I’ve done all the drawings, all the models and having done all that, now they’re sold to these people for housing.

“I hope they won’t do the housing because that pub’s a fantastic pub and there are ways and means of keeping it going.”

He said the site has a lot of history which is why many walkers still visit the area.

Some come to see if the wooden post with the metal figure of a rooster on top, known as Jacob’s Post.

This was erected at the end of the 19th century to mark the site where the body of Jacob Harris, a travelling peddler, was hung after his execution for murdering the pub landlord, his wife and a serving maid in 1734.

Mr Fernando said: “A lot of walkers use that place to walk around the South Downs and they park there.

“Travellers come to see the place and want to find accommodation. The only other B&B is Birch Hotel.”

He said he would still be happy to buy the property from those who have won the bid if they are willing to sell.

Other residents who have made their concerns known on Facebook include Kelly Austin who said she was sad to see a building ‘with such an interesting history’ demolished.

John Parnaby added: “I had many a good evening in that pub during the eighties when John and June had it. Such a shame to see the demise of the English rural pub.”