FRESH plans have been drawn up to rebuild a landmark public house on the Blackdown Hills, nearly six years since it was demolished following a fire.
The Merry Harriers was destroyed by two mystery fires in 2016 and the ruins were then knocked down and the Forches Corner site cleared in March the following year.
Planning permission was granted in late 2017 for the pub to be rebuilt on the 2.5-acre plot, but the development did not take place.
Now, the new site owner Vowles Parks Ltd, of Winscombe, has applied to Somerset West and Taunton Council for a fresh planning consent to rebuild the Merry Harriers along the lines of the expired plans.
Planning consultant Simon Munnings, of Dorset Property Surveys, said the new plans were fundamentally the same design but with some tweaks, including setting back the pub to improve access and have the front of the building facing the road.
Mr Munnings said the fire which burned down the Merry Harriers was ‘an arson attack’.
He said it was intended to demolish outbuildings on the northern site boundary to improve visibility and car parking.
The pub’s single-storey skittle alley on the south-east boundary would be kept and brought back into use.
Car parking would increase from 15 spaces to 42, and there would be four full-time equivalent jobs created by the new pub.
Mr Munnings said: “The site is currently in a sad state and the proposals intend to create new jobs in this area and improve the appearance and quality to that which previously existed, improving the quality reinstatement of the Merry Harriers in a sustainable scale, appropriate form, and good design.
“The new public house should generate funds to look after this site and would be a local community gain, in a much-needed area for employment and opportunities.”
Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty planning officer Lisa Turner said she did not want to comment in detail because it was essentially the same scheme as previously approved, but it was a landmark site and the whole scheme should contribute to conserving and enhancing the special qualities of the area.
The Merry Harriers site was previously put up for sale in 2021 through Robert Cooney estate agents, which was asking for offers of more than £250,000.
A spokesman for the firm said there had been quite a lot of interest but the client had withdrawn it in order to try something else.
Forches Corner was said to have housed a public house since the 15th century.