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Pub allowed to open new outside bar area after lockdown ends

By Kerry Ashdown | Rugeley | Dining out | Published: | Last Updated:

Customers will be able to buy drinks from an outdoor serving area at a canalside pub in Staffordshire when it is allowed to reopen after lockdown.

The Ash Tree near Rugeley. Photo: Google StreetView.

But neighbours living near to the Ash Tree at Armitage Road, near Rugeley, are concerned the change will lead to more noise problems in the area.

Plans for the new outdoor bar at the Ash Tree were put forward before pubs were ordered to close by the Government in March, as part of measures aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.

But when restrictions are eased and hospitality venues are allowed to welcome customers, the new facility will assist with social distancing measures and will mean that customers do not need to venture inside the premises, a Lichfield District Council hearing was told on Monday.

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The licence for the pub and restaurant, which opened in 2004, already allows alcohol to be consumed in the beer garden and an outdoor waiting service. The licence variation application sought changes to the interior of the premises and to include the outside area in relation to the sale of alcohol and late night refreshment.

Lichfield District Council received no objections to the variations from Staffordshire Police or environmental health services. But two residents living near the Ash Tree objected on the grounds of public nuisance and prevention of children from harm.

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The licensing and consents appeals committee hearing heard that concerns about noise had been raised in relation to an event held over the August bank holiday weekend, which had included a DJ.

Resident Ian Minton said: “On the August bank holiday weekend I had already been across to speak with the manager when I heard the noise halfway across the estate. Even sat in our house, with the TV on and all the windows and doors closed, we still couldn’t hear the TV properly over the noise.

'Allowed'

"We live opposite the garden of the pub and we have lived in this house for seven years. It’s only in the last 18 months to two years we have had any issues with noise and external music being played.

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“I have been on the phone and I have been round to speak to the manager to try and make them aware of where the noise and music has travelled. We have been told on each occasion they are allowed to do it and we have to get on with it.

“There is going to be additional noise created by people being served drinks, waiting at the bar and laughing and joking at the bar going on until 11 at night, which isn’t really suitable.”

But Michelle Hazlewood, speaking on behalf of applicant Marston’s PLC, said the bank holiday event – which took place during an afternoon – was not connected with the proposed changes to the licence dealing with the outside serving area.

She described the pub restaurant as “family-orientated” and popular with canal users and tourists. There were no proposed amendments to the licensed hours, she added, but alcohol sales at the outdoor bar area would finish earlier that the hours permitted by the licence. And staff at the outdoor bar would be able to monitor activity in the beer garden.

She said: “Marston’s does not envisage this area will be used every night or every weekend of the year – it’s to supplement service when it is busy or when there are warmer days.

“This area has more value than it did previously as we are coming through Covid-19. The pub is currently shut and cannot open until the Government releases it from Covid-19 regulations.

“When that does eventually happen it’s going to be a way for this premises to move forward through the Covid-19 situation. It will mean people don’t have to move through the pub and we can have social distancing.

“The Ash Tree is a perfect example how we can develop things in the current situation.”

The panel agreed to allow the proposed changes but imposed two additional conditions, requiring regulated entertainment in the outside area to finish by 9pm and a noise attenuation barrier to be installed along the length of the service area that backs onto the canal.

Kerry Ashdown

By Kerry Ashdown

Local Democracy Reporting Service

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