THE NEW owners of the Dodford Inn have spoken of their delight after planning permission was given for the pub to be extended to include a 60-seat restaurant.
Dave Myatt, who was born in Bromsgrove and grew up in Charford, bought the venue in November with his wife Gina and his daughter Becky manages it.
He said: “We were originally going to buy another pub but there were some technical issues and, knowing the history of the Dodford, we decided to buy that instead.
“The village needs the pub but without the restaurant, we feel the pub would struggle to survive.”
The Dodford Inn, which was listed as an Asset of Community Value back in 2013, has been forced to shut three times in the last six years after failing to become a sustainable business.
It has had 14 different people running it since 2000 and, to date, no one has been able to ensure its long-term future.
But Dave believes, with the extra space, he can make it work.
“At the moment, it is not big enough – it is 80 per cent restaurant and 20 per cent pub.
“With the extra restaurant space, the development will give the locals their pub back in overwhelming fashion, bring some more employment opportunities into the area and hopefully attracting a few more visitors.”
The pub currently employs 14 people, with five of those living in Dodford.
Bromsgrove District Council’s planning officers had originally recommended the application for refusal as, they claimed in their report, they felt it was inappropriate development in the greenbelt.
But the application was called into committee by Coun Karen May and at Monday’s planning meeting, members spoke up in favour of the proposal, saying there were very special circumstances surrounding the development.
An alternative recommendation for it to be approved was put forward and it was voted through by nine to one.
Coun May said: “We need business in Bromsgrove – I want to see this pub thrive and the community does too so I will be supporting the new recommendation.”
Coun Charles Hotham added: “The restaurant is going to be there to prop up the pub and the pub is going to be there for the community.”
Dave said: “The parish council and Coun Karen May have both been brilliant in the way they have supported us and we are now looking forward now to taking the business forward.
“We want to make the Dodford a major place to visit, we want to turn it into a ‘destination pub’ and this will now give us the chance to do it.”
The redevelopment will ensure the Dodford Inn retains its character as a traditional English country pub on the outside with a more contemporary look inside.
As well as regular drinkers and diners, the Dodford will also be in a position to host weddings. At the moment, unlike other similar pubs in the area, it is not in a position to do that.
Dave said he cannot wait for work to get under way and it is anticipated the build will take up to three or four months.
“Hopefully the new restaurant area will be open in time for the summer.”
He added they would also be bringing back the beer and music festivals to the Dodford which had proved so popular in the past.
“We are not sure if we’ve got enough time to do those this year, but we are going to try our best to get them on the calendar.
“And hopefully, once the new development is finished, it will safeguard the future of the pub for many years to come.”
Paul Richards, the chairman of Redditch and Bromsgrove CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), said: “We welcome the efforts to protect the Dodford Inn which is a valuable community asset to the people living in the village, as well as being a good real ale pub.
“We hope the council will make similar decisions in the future to safeguard other pubs in the district when they need it.”
Call 01527 835825 for more on the Dodford Inn.