PLANNERS have approved controversial changes to a West Somerset public house run by one of their own councillors and a council employee.

It took Somerset Council’s planning committee less than 30 minutes to unanimously grant permission to Anchors Drop, Blue Anchor, owner Cara Strom, who works as a refugee housing officer for the authority, and her partner Cllr Marcus Kravis, who represents the area on the council.

Ms Strom can now convert her living accommodation into a six-bedroom, four-bathroom holiday let, and turn a garage and function room into a four-bedroom apartment in which she will live.

The plans had previously been refused and Ms Strom was served with an enforcement notice, which she appealed but lost, and last August was given 12 months to undo work already carried out.

The Anchor's Drop public house, Blue Anchor, seen from the beach below.
The Anchor's Drop public house, Blue Anchor, seen from the beach below. PHOTO: Daniel Mumby. ( )

Cllr Kravis told the committee a recently-completed £3.8 million Blue Anchor coastal defence scheme had helped to secure the future of the business.

The council installed 13,500 tonnes of rock armouring to protect the pub and nearby Carhampton to Watchet road from coastal erosion.

Cllr Kravis said: “I would now argue that this is the most stable bit of coastal land in West Somerset, as it will not be affected by sea level rises.

“In fact, we now joke that the amount of rock armour which the council put in front of the old sea wall means that the front garden is now more likely to fall into the road.

“Ms Strom should be commended for having dealt honourably with the situation she has had to content with at the Blue Anchor Hotel for the last 21 years or so.”

The couple have faced a number of battles to redevelop the hotel in recent times, with the former Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) narrowly voting two years ago to grant retrospective permission for six static caravans to be kept on the site until mid-2027.

Cllr Kravis, who also served as a SWT councillor, also lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate against a refusal of plans for solar panels, but the council later U-turned and approved an amended scheme.