Cotswold planners have pushed back making a decision on plans for holiday chalets and a pub extension on the Bathurst Estate in Cirencester.

The Bathurst Estate wants permission for a single storey extension to both the pub and the barn at Tunnel House Inn in Coates near Cirencester.

The proposals also include use of nearby land to place six modular holiday pods with outdoor hot tubs which could be rented out for between £125 and £200 a night.

The applicant says the inn has been vacant for about two years and the proposals are vital to reopen the pub which would provide jobs for up to 20 people.

But some residents along with Rodmarton Parish Council objected to the proposals over concerns the chalets will hurt the area of outstanding natural beauty, disrupt the tranquillity of the area and impact the nearby grade II-listed Thames and Severn Canal.

“Modification and extension of the existing pub and the barn are broadly acceptable but the proposal for the six chalets positioned on high ground and on raised platforms overlooking the open countryside towards Tarlton and the site of the Roman camp to the south west is vehemently opposed,” parish councillor Mark Grimes told the planning committee on April 26.

Margaret Hopkins, an objector, said villagers have really missed the Tunnel House Inn.

Residents have had nowhere to walk to for a Sunday roast and a pint while it has been closed.

“We are delighted to know that it will be reopened in the near future and approve of the plans in general. However, why are the accommodation pods being sited on the canal bank?”

She said each tiny corner of nature is valuable and should be protected. There is a much more suitable site for them beside and behind the existing inn, she added.

But Andrew Miles, who spoke on behalf of Lord Bathurst, explained why the proposals are so important for the viability of the pub.

He told the committee that council officers recommended approving the scheme. Mr Miles explained how a lot of care has been taken to design the proposals to limit light spillage, protect biodiversity and locate the chalets within a woodland setting while conserving the landscape.

“This application has one objective: to reopen the Tunnel House as a viable business,” he said.

“In order to do this, the way forward is to enlarge the dining area and provide accommodation units. The latter being the more sensitive element of this application.”

Mr Miles said a letter he submitted to the council detailed why no tenants have come forward to operate from the inn.

It also explains how the proposed accommodation units would help and the site’s revenue would double.

The earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortisation, and restructuring or rent costs would average 13.8% over the next three financial years, the letter reads.

The letter goes on to say the projection reveals that not only would the business be viable, there would be profit for the operator and the ability to pay an appropriate rent to the estate.

Ward councillor Tony Berry (C, Kemble) told the committee the Tunnel House Inn is a community asset in a very sensitive area.

He said there were no real concerns with the enhancements to the pub and the barn.

“The only issue in my view is with the pods. Are they appropriate, are they necessary, are they in the right place?”

Councillor Mark Harris (LD, Abbey) proposed that the planning committee should visit the site given the concerns raised by the parish council, residents and the local ward member.

This proposal was seconded by Cllr Sue Jepson (C, Blockley) and was approved by nine votes in favour to two against.