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Village at the centre of a new victory for England.

Villagers at the ancient centre of England are celebrating victory in their long-running fight to stop a take-away restaurant being built on the historic site.

A Government planning inspector has again thrown out proposals to allow a restaurant to open on Meriden village green.

For the past ten years residents have been fighting a series of attempts by a number of developers to open a take-away next to the village green, which is protected by a conservation order.

The Warwickshire hamlet has been considered by travellers as the centre of the country since before the Norman Conquest, in the 11th Century, because of its position equally between the two main trading centres of London and Chester.

The village green has a 500-year-old cross marking the ancient market place.

The first application for a take-away was made in 1989.

Five applications have been made since then and all have been refused by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.

Three times appeals have been made to the Department of the Environment but on each occasion the council's decision has been upheld.

"This has been a ten-year battle for us but people around the green are against the plans 100 per cent," said Mr Paul Hook, manager of Stars newsagents in the village.

"A take-away would devastate the very pretty area around the green. The decision by the planning inspector has vindicated our view but the plans will no doubt come back again."

The latest application, this time for a take-away and tea rooms, was submitted in January last year but permission was refused by Solihull planners in March. After the latest appeal, Government planning inspector, Mr David Kaiserman, upheld the decision.

The outlet would ruin "the sense of rurality and simplicity" in the village, he said.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Aitchison, Neil
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 23, 1999
Words:292
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