Council officers reject plans to turn part of historic Aldbury pub into a farm shop

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The alehouse is linked to an important part of 18th century history

Plans to turn part of an historical Aldbury pub into a farm shop have been turned down by Dacorum Borough Council.

The Valiant Trooper is an old alehouse which dates back to the 1500s, rumoured to be where the Duke of Wellington talked tactics with his troops.

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Its owner has plans to turn the building’s stable wing, including a restaurant, into a farm shop and kitchen, or food prep area.

The Valiant Trooper in Aldbury, Hertfordshire. Image: Google EarthThe Valiant Trooper in Aldbury, Hertfordshire. Image: Google Earth
The Valiant Trooper in Aldbury, Hertfordshire. Image: Google Earth

But Dacorum Borough Council has turned down the request for planning permission after it received objections from neighbours.

Fearing their local would disappear, villagers set up a campaign page on Facebook to ‘Save The Valiant Trooper, Aldbury as a public house’.

But developers have argued the move would bring more business to the venue.

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They told Dacorum Borough Council: “The application is looking to maximise the offering to a wider audience within the community.

“Diversifying its offering will attract new business from existing pub customers [and] also new business from a different demographic, thus providing an additional revenue stream.

“This will not affect the present use of the site which offers beverages and food.

“The applicant has made substantial investment refurbishing the building, securing its future as a public house.

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“It is now on par with some of the best pubs in the area. The Trooper is now a ‘go to’ destination.

“Common sense must apply here. The change of use to provide a farm shop and deli can only enhance the site’s viability.”

But campaigners commissioned their own viability report to review the business’ economic sustainability.

It reads: “The applicant’s proposal for a future business relies too heavily on the outside area of the public house and the success of the farm shop and deli without a full business proposal.

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“The Valiant Trooper remains economically viable and it should retain the restaurant.”

Developers further argued the applicant is outperforming the figures used in the report.

The Chiltern Society also lodged an objection because the application did not take enough details including parking and the layout of the deli or farm shop.

According to documents handed to Dacorum Borough Council, as part of past planning applications, the Grade II listed building was formerly known as The Royal Oak.

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Its name changed to The Trooper Alehouse in 1803, rumoured to be because the Duke of Wellington met his troops there to talk tactics, becoming The Valiant Trooper in 1878.

Late Playboy executive Victor Lownes also used to drink at the pub.

Summing up its decision, council officers said the proposal was “acceptable in principle” and “would not cause harm to the character of Aldbury and the surrounding area.

However, it adds: “Insufficient information has been submitted to satisfactorily demonstrate that there would be no harm to the viability of the Valiant Trooper as a pub, which could result in the potential loss of social infrastructure considered important to the community.

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“Furthermore, the proposals fail to demonstrate there would be sufficient on-site parking provision and servicing arrangements to serve the uses that would not result in overspill parking to the detriment of highway safety and residential amenity.”