Another piece of history lost as council says St George pub can be converted to homes

The Air Balloon Tavern

The Air Balloon Tavern

Plans to turn the Air Balloon pub into nine homes have been approved by the city council to the dismay of campaigners.

St George West councillor Sue Milestone who objected to the proposals along with the Bristol Pubs Group said after yesterday’s decision that she was “terribly disappointed” that yet another public house had been lost forever.

Cllr Milestone said the area had already lost five historic pubs in recent years – the Lord Rodney, Bell, Don Jon, Cross & Wheatsheaf – while the Chequers in Kingswood has been granted planning permission for a Tesco.

She said the future of two more pubs – World’s End and the Bull – was uncertain. Both have closed but it is unclear what is happening with them.

The Air Balloon Tavern has been sold to developers Griffon Homes who now have permission to turn it into a mix of one- and two-bedroom homes. A rear extension is planned following the demolition of the existing side extension and nine parking spaces will be created along with cycle parking.

A report to the council’s development control committee said the pub was clearly valued by its users and the community but the value attached to the site by itself did not warrant refusal.  It was considered that that there were alternatives within a 10-minute walk.

The applicants said a viability report on the pub had been prepared by industry experts Fleurets, concluding that the business was not a viable business proposition, given its history of low performance, marginal profitability and the high level of competition.

There were more than 30 objectors including the Bristol Pubs Group which considered it was a viable business.

But there were also comments in support, noting the benefits of a reduction in noise associated with the pub and that there were alternative public houses within walking distance.

Cllr Milestone said that at a recent meeting at the pub, more than enough signatures had been gathered to have the pub deemed an asset of community value.

She said: “What kind of environment are we creating for future generations when we are losing our historic buildings at such an alarming rate? Current Government policy favouring housing development should not be a charter for developers to make a quick buck.”