June 8, 2009: Having responded to our earlier post about the new George proposals - in particular the lack of function space - and then us asking them if they really meant what they said, Scottish and Newcastle's press office decided to back away. The main reason seems to be that they 'don't know enough to comment' but time pressures were also mentioned, including that they don't want to cover each and every point as it arises and would prefer to respond to everything at once! ;-) Fair enough, but are we the only ones worried about the risks of a design company in Cardiff working for a client in Edinburgh playing with the very heart of Hatherleigh?
For the record, they did want us to mention the following: "This is actually not a modern scheme, in fact we have gone to great lengths to bring back to life the "old" feeling atmosphere and it is not open plan, rather there are many cosy corners and alcoves as many of the existing wall position are the same as before." Hmmm! We wonder how many of this team actually visited the old George? It was a proper Coaching Inn that evolved over centuries and we don't see much of that in the proposals (compare this picture with the one in our earlier story!) Any rebuild in these circumstances is difficult but this is not just a re-build - it's nothing less than the recovery of the heart of Hatherleigh and that involves a lot more than just bricks, mortar and oak beams. Obviously it's impossible to recover the old George but S&N have a major responsibility to get it right. We still think the design leans far too much towards 'city centre chic', and that the lack of function space is a serious issue.
How many times was the old George used for auctions, parties, picture shows, mouse races and the like? If the new George can't offer this there's nowhere else that can. If you agree - or if you have other views - write them down and make sure they reach the planners soon, plus send copies to the Town Council and your West Devon Councillor too. The West Devon web site will show you the full proposals in full and we recommend you go there to check everything, including comments already being received back from various sources. Do a Planning Search on Planning ID: 12916/2009/OKE.
If you need guidance or want to air your views, email us