Fury over plan to turn 17th century pub Ropsley Fox into houses

Villagers are angry at plans to turn the Ropsley Fox into housing. Photo: 0207a
Villagers are angry at plans to turn the Ropsley Fox into housing. Photo: 0207a
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A 17th century rural pub will be turned into a housing development if a planning application is accepted.

The Ropsley Fox in one of Lincolnshire’s oldest inns and is believed to date back to 1647. As such, villagers are “outraged” at the idea of turning the pub and its grounds into six properties.

But its owner, Dave Smith, said he has “given it his best go” to keep the pub alive but did not have the support of locals.

The development plan is a hot topic in Ropsley, with a community group forming to fight it. It was standing room only at a recent parish council meeting at which the application was discussed.

Many villagers have put forward objections, which include the loss of views, light and privacy. And in a statement put together by the community group, they said: “Perhaps more importantly, however, the planning application threatens the loss of the community spirit and the irreversible change of use of what is arguably one of the oldest structures in the village, perhaps even the district.”

Another group of villagers have put together a petition against the proposal. Leading it is Jan Thomas, 57, of Church Lane.

She said: “We all used to use to the Ropsley Fox. I first came to the village 15 years ago and it was thriving then.

“Most people in the village want to keep their pub. It’s a lovely old pub.”

Meanwhile, Victoria Baker, 30, of Muston Fields, said parents currently use the pub car park and an adjoining pathway as a solution to traffic problems and to ensure child safety.

She added: “This could be a beautiful village pub and bring employment to the village. I’m not happy to just stand by and let this go on.”

Mr Smith, who runs the White Lion at Colsterworth, took over the Ropsley Fox in 2010 and closed its doors in July last year. He said: “I believe turning it into housing is absolutely right for the village. There’s another pub in the village and people should be getting behind that. I made no money on the pub. In fact, I lost money and, God, I worked hard enough on it.”

Mr Smith said he has been accused of sabotaging the pub to force it to fail so that he can build houses and make money. He added: “As God is my judge, there was no deliberate sabotage. I even tried to sell it over 18 months but it was impossible.”

However, the community group fighting the plan believes too little was done to try and sell the pub on.