The Full Moon, High Street, Twerton, Bath
The Full Moon is a Grade II late 18th century/early 19th century public house, situated within the Twerton character area of the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area and the World Heritage Site. The building has been in use as a public house from at least the late 19th century. It formerly incorporated a series of attached outbuildings running to the west which later fell into ruin by the late 20th century and have since been demolished with the exception of the retained two storey pitched roof wing. The public house remains a fairly prominent aspect on the western end of Twerton’s local high street, elevated above the road on a raised pavement which is separately Grade II listed.
The pub has been closed since around 2020, and is indicated to have been vacant for the last 18 months since its purchase by the applicant. It is worth noting that the pub was originally marketed as a freehold public house and was indicated to be a “well supported locals establishments” as part of the property report provided with the sales listing.
BPT is not opposed to the principle of reusing historic buildings, and we would encourage vacant buildings to be repurposed to ensure their future sustainability and presence within Bath’s built environment.
In accordance with Policy LCR1A, “The change of use of a public house which would result in the loss of a valued community facility (through demolition, redevelopment or change of use) will not be permitted unless: 1. it can be proven that the operation of a public house serving the local community is not economically viable and the premises have been effectively marketed for a consistent minimum period of six months as a public house for a price commensurate with the current market price for this use in the locality without success; or 2. the development or change of use would result in the provision of alternative facilities of equivalent or greater benefit to the local community.”
We therefore have concerns about the unmitigated loss of a public house from a local high street with insufficient justification as to the public house’s current economic viability. It is indicated that the property was marketed for around a year before being sold to the applicant with 11 viewings and one offer which did not proceed “during a period of 6 months”, but there is little to no information regarding potential interest in retaining the building as a public house, or reasons for the lack of interest. The pub sale marketing report or the viability assessment do not appear to have been submitted as part of the live planning application.
We do not consider that the existing condition of the building, given its 18-month vacancy at the point when it was sold, is a valid justification for the pub’s lack of viability. Where the building has been left empty and allowed to decline, it is presumed that this would directly contribute to an associated decline in commercial interest due to increasing investment needed to bring the building back up to an acceptable standard, and loss of the former customer base.
In accordance with Section 6 of the NPPF, “planning policies should enable […] the retention and development of accessible local services and community facilities, such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, open space, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship.” Proposals for change of use would therefore result in the loss of a public house that has been indicated to have formerly served the local community, without sufficient demonstration that the use of the building would not be economically viable.
Change of use would not result in the provision of alternative facilities of equivalent or greater benefit to the local community, contrary to Policy LCR1A. We strongly encourage the prioritisation of options for this building to be brought back into a public or community use.