A pub chain has launched a new bid to build homes overlooking Fleet’s picturesque pond.

Hertfordshire-based brewer McMullen and Sons wants to build a detached seven-bedroom home for staff working at the Heron on the Lake, along with two private detached four and two-bedroom homes on land next to the pub in Old Cove Road.

The pub owner bought the site overlooking Fleet ‘Little’ Pond in 2009 and said it has invested heavily in improving the building.

It added staff training and welfare were key objectives of the company and it was essential to have key staff living on site, not only for security and safety but also for improved management and ongoing training.

The firm said out of its entire estate, the Heron on the Lake is the only property without any staff accommodation on site.

The vacant land where the homes are proposed to be built

The brewer submitted plans to build a detached three-bedroom home and three detached four-bedroom homes on the land in 2011.

Agents acting for the applicant said two of the four-bedroom homes would be sold on the open market, the revenue from which would fund the building of the two staff properties.

But Hart District Council refused the application, warning of possible over-development on one of the main entrances to the town and a loss of public views from Cove Road and the railway line. The application was finally dismissed on appeal but the brewer returned with revised plans, reducing the proposed scheme in scale by 25%.

Fleet Town Council attacked those plans, warning one of the proposed houses was out of keeping with the area regarding its height, and particularly the mass of the roof.

Hart’s own tree officer has also raised concerns, warning the site is covered by a Tree Preservation Order and one of the proposed homes is too close to a protected oak tree.

The revised scheme was later withdrawn but the brewer has now returned with a third scheme.

Bedford-based DLP Planning Consultants Ltd, acting as agents for McMullen and Sons, said the seven-bedroom house would be built closest to the public house for the sole use of Heron on the Lake staff.

The four bedroom two-storey detached home would have an integral garage and parking for up to three cars, while the third home would be a two-bedroom cottage.

The agent said the proposed development would have no adverse impact on residential amenity or users of the site and the impact on surrounding trees and ecology had been carefully considered and addressed.

“The flood risk assessment has been updated and amended to reflect changes in policy confirming no changes to the overall scheme and reiterating the applicant’s willingness to address flood risk issues appropriately,” added the agent.

“The detailed design and appearance of the proposed scheme, the materials, the revised amenity space and density have seen an increased improvement on the overall scheme that increases the longevity of the surrounding protected tree belt in accordance with planning policy.”

Hart hopes to make a decision on the application by April 1.