THE KINGSBRIDGE BAR: Permission for beer garden rejected
A beer garden which pub owners say is needed to save their business after the Covid pandemic will have to be closed off.
The Kingsbridge Bar, in Wollaston, has been refused backdated planning permission for an outside seating area following complaints of noisy customers after it opened its doors in September last year.
Supporters of the pub on the junction of King Street and Bridgnorth Road pleaded the beer garden was needed to help it survive when lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Regulars had rallied to its defence with seventy letters of support claiming the bar was a great place to visit, is family and couples friendly and well run.
But councillors on Dudley council’s development committee backed planning officers’ recommendation to refuse planning permission.
Cat Eccles, saying the beer garden should stay, said the bar had only been open eight weeks before it was forced to close during the national lockdown in October.
Claiming the owners had worked closely with local residents and planning officers, she said: “They want to continue to work with the community to ensure it becomes a valuable asset set in Wollaston.
“The outdoor area is particularly important given the recent government decision on meeting people from other households indoors and while this situation will change in time the outdoor area will remain an essential part of the business.
“The proposed change of use will therefore help support a business in these uncertain times due to the pandemic.”
Council officers told committee members the bar’s original planning permission did not include a beer garden which they only became aware of when the pub opened.
They added, while it was open, the council had received complaints of noise nuisance from local residents and expected more in the future.
Cllr Elaine Taylor, supporting the pub’s application, said: “Sadly the hospitality industry has suffered very badly in the last year and I think we should be doing whatever we can within reason to support any business to maximise whatever space they have.”
Health and safety officers said that if the beer garden remained they expected to issue noise abatement orders because it is impossible to control sound levels from drinkers using outside areas.
Cllr Khurshid Ahmed agreed pubs had suffered during Covid and needed support but councillors had to consider the residents, adding: “Noise can be controlled in private parties but in commercial business such this where people come from different walks of life when they have a few drinks you cannot control them and you cannot control the noise.”
The committee voted overwhelmingly to refuse the application.
Words: George Makin, Local Democracy Reporter
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