CONTROVERSIAL plans to turn a village pub’s garden into houses have been submitted for a third time.

REL Group Ltd, which owns The Plough Inn in Appleton, has this month put in a fresh application to Vale of White Horse District Council for permission to build two detached houses, one four-bedroom and one two-bedroom, in the space behind the building. The proposal also includes refurbishing the pub.

This ‘reduced’ development follows the refusal of plans to build two four-bedroom detached houses in the existing pub garden and keep a smaller area, approximately 200 square metres, to the side of the pub facing Eaton Road as the garden.

That scheme was rejected in August, with the authority citing concerns that the loss of green space at the rear of the pub would jeapordise the long-term financial viability of the pub and its ability to cater to larger visitor numbers.

An initial application featuring a similar design was put in last year but this was withdrawn before going before the council.

A planning statement submitted with the new application urged councillors to think again about the scheme and previous concerns, arguing: “The officer report referred to the pub garden as a significant historic feature but neither the officer, nor the representations from the public can identify any real history here.

“It is effectively admitted that this is a device to rate its social or community value and this is clearly a matter that needs to be re-considered.”

The second application, ultimately rejected by councillors, was objected to by the parish council and received 89 responses from people protesting against the plans.

Among them was Appleton resident Dr Graham Cairns, who in his objection wrote: “This is a second planning application made in an attempt to shoehorn new houses into a key piece of green space in a conservation area at the centre of Appleton village, thereby damaging the viability of a registered asset of community value.

“It will of course be noted that the first application was withdrawn by the applicant following objections on many grounds by dozens of local residents.”

Sophie Willis, of Netherton Road, meanwhile, echoed the district council's fears losing the garden space would mark the end of the pub.

She wrote: “This is the last pub left in the village and by building on the pub garden it will lead to the closure of the pub for good.

“The proposed use of the side of the pub as a garden is ridiculous. It is by a noisy road and totally unsafe for families with young children."

She added: “These buildings will not help or be of any advantage to anyone but those making money from them. They will destroy our pub and the last meeting place for the villagers of Appleton.”

A target decision date for the most recent proposal is currently set for November 29. View the plans at