A bid to designate an 18th Century former pub as an asset of community value has failed after the council said hopes of saving the venue were "unrealistic".

Hertsmere Borough Council rejected a nomination to include he White Hart, in St Albans Road, South Mimms on their register of assets after the landowners said running a pub on the site had become unviable. 

Developer Griggs Homes announced in August it had bought The White Hart site.

South Mimms Parish Council nominated the pub in September, after saying the venue and war memorial was a "strong image for the village" and it was a "key meeting place" for local people.

The parish council’s nomination said the pub has "historically" been a venue for many community events including the community Christmas meal, children’s Halloween party, Remembrance Sunday Service, darts, cricket and cribbage teams and adhoc fundraising events for charities.

The nomination added concerns had been raised because 225 new homes near to the Grade II listed building had been proposed in the borough council’s draft local plan, although no planning application for the site itself has been put forward.

The parish council had accepted the past business model had not been successful, but suggested a restaurant offering may have more success in the village. 

Griggs Homes submitted a viability report into running the site as a pub. It found the previous owners, McMullen, had seen a significant decline in historical barrelage volumes, from 365 barrels in 2005 to 162 in 2019.

The report continues to mention the property would require significant investment to bring it up to standard and it "does not remain an economically viable proposition" as a pub.

In their letter of objection, Griggs also confirmed, if listed as an asset of community value, they would hold the site for five years and the site would "remain inaccessible to the local community until the owner’s aspirations for it can be met".

As noted by the council, even if listed, there would be no mechanism to compel the owner to dispose of an asset. 

Despite accepting that the pub had "provided a convivial atmosphere" and "furthered the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community", the borough council said the cost of refurbishing, and the willingness of the owner to hold onto the property, meant it would be unrealistic for the community to bring the pub back into community use.

A written decision by executive member for planning, Cllr Dr Harvey Cohen, said the lack of plans to support the parish council’s aspirations for future use, and the landowner’s "capacity to hold the property to block future community use make it unrealistic to think that in the next five years The White Hart Public House could again further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community".

Despite the refusal to include the asset on the council’s register, Cllr Cohen’s decision does note that no planning application or pre-application has yet been submitted to the council in relation to the site.

It adds any change of use for the pub would still need to be agreed by the council and will be a matter for the council’s planning committee or the head of planning and economic development to determine.