Plans to re-open a pub with additional flats on green belt land have been refused as "dominant" and "overbearing" by the local authority.

Havering Council refused a planning application to re-open the pub, formerly the Royal Oak, and build two flats in Havering-atte-Bower's North Road last Friday (January 29).

Under the plans, the rear of the pub would have been knocked down and converted into extra flats. There is already a flat in the premises, the application form shows.

The site is within a conservation area and the green belt, a previous planning statement showed.

The council received the application on November 29 in 2023 and validated shortly after (December 1), but has since outlined its reasons for refusal.

"'[An] unsympathetic, visually intrusive development which would not preserve or enhance the special character of this part of the conservation area," was how the plans were described.

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The Royal Oak shut in 2019 and was sold in 2021, according to a design and access statement from MP Chartered Architects published in December 2023.

In June last year, plans had been submitted by Andrew Pigney, who represents Infinity Property London, to replace the pub with a community cafe and flats.

The Havering-atte-Bower Conservation Society wrote to the applicant regarding that application, advising against reopening the Royal Oak as a pub.

It said: "As a pub it had no community benefit for the village at all and we are anxious that it could return to the threatening environment of before."

But the applicant later changed the proposal to include the re-opening of the Royal Oak, and it is this application the council has refused.

A design and access statement stated that the client, Mr Pigney, had accepted the Royal Oak must remain a pub.

It was argued it could return as a simple pub serving alcohol and meals, and a community facility serving teas, coffees and light lunches, the statement shows.

"The actual pub size has been determined based on what we feel would be viable for a public house in this location," it was added.

But a planning officer called the proposal "an unacceptable development [...] harmful to the character of the surrounding area and the amenity of future occupiers.

"[It would] appear unduly dominant, visually intrusive and overbearing in the rear garden environment harmful to the amenity of neighbouring properties and their rear gardens."