The beer garden at the Duke of York in Greenhill reopened to customers last month following the latest national closure of pubs to control the spread of coronavirus.
Pubs are also now able to allow indoor drinking and dining once more from this week. But if restrictions on indoor service return during the pandemic an extension to the Duke of York’s outside licensed area will enable the pub to remain viable, manager Leanne Giblin told Lichfield District Council’s licensing and consents appeals committee on Thursday, May 20.
Committee members granted permission for the premises licence changes. The pub is extending the existing beer garden into part of its car park area and relocating the car park to the former bowling green area.
Responsible authorities including police and the council’s environmental health department have raised no concerns about the extension to the licensed area.
But the council has received four objections from nearby residents on the grounds that public safety and the prevention of public nuisance licensing objectives would be undermined by the extension.
Margaret Jolley said: “The proposal to extend the licensed area across the former car park is completely inappropriate for this location. It represents a massive increase in drinking capacity fir what has historically been quite a small premises.
“Given that Covid restrictions restricting the size of groups, obliging customers to remain seated and compelling table service are rapidly being relaxed, if this application is approved it will create a huge unmanageable vertical drinking space a few feet from homes. In order to avoid inevitable public nuisance and potential risks to public safety this application should be refused.”
Ben Humphries said: “There have already been several complaints to the council last year by the neighbours regarding the noise from the customers.
“We do not have a garden and the beer garden is directly outside of our properties. It is almost the equivalent of someone having a party in your garden every day, but you’re not invited.
“I am unable to open my window because the noise would be even worse and during the summer months this makes sleep unbearable, as I wait until the beer garden is closed before opening the window to let in some air. Extending the area would in effect make this much worse – with the potential for more problems relating to crime to think about.”
The Duke of York is Lichfield’s oldest pub, having been built in 1644.
Ms Giblin told Thursday’s hearing there were signs on the premises reminding customers to be considerate of neighbours.
She added: “It is a pub – it is inevitable there is going to be a bit of noise. We can’t stop people talking at a manageable level. It is not as if we created a garden where there wasn’t one before.
“The way we have designed (the extension) we hope will bring people away from the homes. We have some customers we know to be noisy and we seat them on the other side.
“We did invite the neighbours to come for a site visit before and during the works, so we could explain what was going on, and they refused to do so. We offered to pay for their windows to be cleaned afterwards because of the dust and during the first lockdown we put a notice through every door with our contact details.
“We did try and work with them and a lot of neighbours do drink in the pub. Some who put objections in still drink in the pub.
“We are more than happy to work with them if possible, but they go through the council instead of asking is there any way we can do this. If we knew about it we could try and rectify it and work with them. It’s a bit frustrating.”