Police raid pub cannabis farm
SEVEN people have been arrested and “several hundred” of cannabis plants found by police who raided an empty Pucklechurch pub.
The cannabis factory was found on December 6 at the Fleur de Lis in Shortwood Road, which has been closed since March this year.
The pub is the subject of a planning battle, with a bid to build eight homes in the car park submitted in November, as developers appeal against the refusal of a previous scheme for nine homes.
An Avon and Somerset police spokesman said seven men had been arrested. Crime scene investigators remained at the pub more than a day after the discovery. Police told the Voice that the number of plants discovered was so large that investigators were unable to give a precise number, but that “several hundred” had been found.
Electricity distribution firm Western Power was called in after it was found that the power supply had been tampered with.
The seven men, aged between 22 and 40, were released under investigation on December 8, having all been arrested on suspicion of producing a class B drug.
The police spokesperson said: "The investigation is ongoing."
The Voice understands that six of the men were arrested at the scene but the seventh fled and was caught later in the day elsewhere in the village. One man needed medical treatment after injuring himself trying to run away.
Police are asking anyone with information about the cannabis factory to call 101 and quote the crime reference number 5220 273 988. Information can also be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The raid comes as plans to build eight new three-bedroom houses around the pub, knocking down its restaurant area and removing the beer garden in the process, have been submitted to South Gloucestershire Council.
Under Brislington-based developer UKS Group’s plans, the overall trading area of the pub would be halved, with the intention of it becoming a “more traditional vertical drinking establishment”, relying on alcohol sales rather than meals.
The number of car parking spaces for the pub would fall from 29 to four - with 18 spaces allocated to the homes and seven lost to the housing development.
One part of the plans indicates that the four parking spaces are “retained for conversion of (the pub) to residential unit”. Storage for 16 bikes would be created.
In their statement proposing the plans, agents Stokes Morgan Planning said the scheme would bring:
• economic benefits, providing building jobs, increased council tax revenue and new customers for local businesses; payments to the council including new homes bonus, and spending on weekly goods at local shops and businesses by the residents;
• social benefits by providing housing “for local people with connections to the area, allowing them to maintain contact with family and friends”, as well as support for local institutions;
• environmental benefits through efficient use of “brownfield land”, improving drainage by removing the car park surface and improving the character of the village conservation area, and providing modern, more energy efficient homes.
The agents say South Gloucestershire Council had agreed the site was “suitable for redevelopment” even as it refused a previous plan for nine homes, which the developer is appealing against. They insist that the scale and design of the development would not detract from the Grade I-listed Thomas a Becket Church nearby.
The agents said: “It is clear from the proposed plans that the nature of the Fleur de Lys would change considerably, with the demolition of the restaurant area, and the reversion to a more traditional vertical drinking establishment.
“With less of an emphasis on food, the Fleur de Lys is more likely to serve a local demographic than those travelling from further afield by car. Pucklechurch is a small village and the site is therefore within walking distance for the likely majority of its clientele.
“And it is not presumptuous to say that the majority of the clientele are going to be there to consume alcoholic beverages, and really should not be driving there as a result.”
As the Voice went to print, the council had published comments from five residents on the plans, one in support and four objecting on grounds including road safety, parking and questioning the need for more development. One said if double-yellow lines were added in Shortwood Road as part of the scheme it would “kill the business of the shop and post office”.
To view and comment on the plans, visit the planning section of South Gloucestershire Council’s website and search for application P20/23558/F.
People who are not online should contact the council on 01454 868004.