Councillor Amanda Taylor

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No Mr Punch, that’s not the way to do it! Cambridge councillors vote to keep The Queen Edith pub.

by Amanda Taylor on 12 November, 2010

Punch & JudyIt was standing room only at Homerton College on Thursday as the Cambridge South Area Committee debated a planning application by Punch Taverns to demolish the Queen Edith Public House and replace it with housing. Seven councillors voted unanimously to throw out the application.  They insisted on the value of the pub to the community and the local economy, as well as the importance of pubs being ‘local’ in the true sense of the word, within walking distance of people’s homes.

Debate centred on whether the pub really does meet day-to-day needs and whether it is a community facility. We stressed the fact it is the only pub in the Queen Edith’s area, with the nearest alternatives being in Rock Road (both about a mile away) and that the road the pub is on, Wulfstan Way, has a very high number of elderly people who would find a mile-long walk difficult.


There were about 40 people at the meeting, and two people who spoke against the application, Ms Caroline Gohler on behalf of Cambridge Past Present and Future and Mr Philip Barnes on behalf of the pub landlord, his family and customers. A Mr Smith spoke as agent for Punch Taverns, the owners of the pub.


Speech at South Area on planning application to replace The Queen Edith with eight houses


2 Responses

  1. Cllr Taylor, who chaired the meeting, writes: “Ten councillors voted unanimously to throw out the application”.

    This is not true. There are only nine city councillors who are members of the South Area Committee; two of those Labour councillors Newbold and McPherson did not participate in the debate or vote on the planning application.

    The seven councillors who took part in the deliberation did vote unanimously to refuse the application; they were councillors Dryden, Stuart, Blackhurst, Taylor, Sanders, Swanson and Al Bander. (You won’t find that list in any official city council document as no councillors deemed this decision important enough for a recorded vote)

    Cllr Taylor writes: “[Councillors] insisted on the value of the pub to the community and the local economy, as well as the importance of pubs being ‘local’ in the true sense of the word, within walking distance of people’s homes.”

    Councillors certainly expressed those views; but when it came to the final vote, the reasons given for rejecting the application ie, the reasons on which the council will be fighting any appeal, focused as much on the view that the proposed new buildings were inappropriate for their location as opposition to the demolition of the pub.

    I would like to see the City Council issue timely formal decision notices announcing the results of important planning and licensing decisions such as this in which there is a substantial public interest. The public ought be able to find out what the result of the vote really was, and what councillors really decided, from an official source.

    Despite standing on a manifesto promising transparency the Liberal Democrats running the city council have refused to implement such basic measures which would allow the wider public to follow what they are doing. The East Area committee, on which the Liberal Democrats do not have a majority has asked their officers to issue formal decision notices, but this has not happened as the Liberal Democrats running the council have not supported the idea.

    In this case the text of the councillors reasons is critical as it is that which the council will have to defend on appeal. In my view the appeal is just as likely to be lost because councillors can’t justify their view the newly proposed buildings are too tall, or too close to the road as on the question of the value of the pub to the local community.

    I have written an article on the deliberation of the planning application at the meeting:

  2. Mea culpa, thanks for spotting this, Richard.

    The three Queen Edith’s and the three Trumpington councillors voted, plus one of the three Cherry Hinton councillors. One Cherry Hinton councillor did not take part in the planning applications for personal reasons, the other on principle.

    NB I found your report very interesting — but please note that the planning reasons were all given as part of my speech, the ones about the proposed new development as well as the government guidance ones.

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