Questions over future of £1.3m Alnwick pub plans

The Corn Exchange in Alnwick
The Corn Exchange in Alnwick

Pub giant JD Wetherspoon’s scheme for a pub in Alnwick may be in doubt after last night’s partial approval of a change to allow later access to the outdoor area.

One of the conditions of the approval for the £1.3million scheme at the town’s Corn Exchange, granted in February this year by Northumberland County Council’s north area planning committee, was that ‘use of the external beer garden and smoking area by clients/guests shall not be permitted between the hours of 9pm and 8am’.

The pub company wanted to alter this so that it read ‘no drinks shall be permitted in the beer garden, smoking shelter or smoking area between the hours of 10pm and 8am’.

Not only would this add an hour for outdoor drinking, but would mean smokers could use the area up until closing time – 12.30am on weekdays and Sundays and 1.30am on Saturdays – as long as they weren’t drinking outside.

As reported last night on the Gazette website, the committee voted for a compromise; to allow the outdoor area to be used until 10pm rather than 9pm, but then it is to close completely.

However, Wetherspoon’s original application to change the condition stated that ‘the onerous nature of the imposed condition renders the development unviable’ and at last night’s meeting, an agent for the pub company repeated that this was the case.

The Gazette contacted the firm this morning to check whether the amended change that was approved by councillors was acceptable.

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “Our planning consultants have been in touch with the case officer to discuss the decision made by council members. We will await the publication of the decision before we decide what action, if any, is required.”

A resident objecting to the proposed change and Coun David Farrar, of Alnwick Town Council, expressed doubts as to the actual impact of amending the condition by one hour, which members of the committee were sympathetic to. However, the concern is that smokers would instead use the front of the building, immediately adjacent to the block of flats above the steps leading to Bondgate Within, causing issues for those residents.