Ponteland restaurant offers concessions in bid to secure permission for outdoor bar

Ponteland restaurant Rialto has signalled it would drop a request to stage live music in a proposed outdoor area and also accept limits on customers in an attempt to open an outdoor bar.
Rialto's, in Ponteland.Rialto's, in Ponteland.
Rialto's, in Ponteland.

Bosses at the popular Italian eaterie are seeking a licence for a bar and seating area at the back of the site.

And as chiefs at Northumberland County Council prepare to rule on the application, they have been told the business will be willing to accept limits on customer numbers, and scrap a request to hold live music performances.

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“The proposal is not involving a container park, a festival site, or a [German-style] bierkeller, that is not what we intend doing,” lawyer Richard Arnot, representing Rialto owner Sunah Miah, told the local authority’s licensing hearing.

“It will be a family friendly venue, it will have lots of different types of activities going on in it, it will be a positive addition to Ponteland.

“[Critics say] it will inevitably be wet-led, a vertical drinking venue, but that simply is not borne out by what we’ve described to you.”

Bosses at Rialto had originally sought permission for live music and alcohol sales at the new outdoor area until midnight, seven days a week.

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At the concluding session of a two-day hearing on the plans, Arnot said his client would be willing to “forgo” a licence to stage live music and accept a condition limiting capacity to 350 people at a time – less than half the 800 some opponents had predicted could squeeze in at peak times.

Some were unconvinced, however, with Chris Grunert, representing the Northumberland Pub Co, which runs Ponteland’s Blackbird Inn, claiming the application “could have been drawn on the back of a fag packet”.

He added: “The hasty amendments that have been coming out, even during the course of the hearing, are superficial attempts to persuade the committee that issues raised by residents and trade objectors can and will be dealt with.

“The way that application keeps moving and flowing is a sign the applicant is ducking and diving, trying simply to say things to appease the committee and do not reflect their true intentions.”

Following summing up, panel chairman Cllr James Hutchinson, said he and his colleagues faced a “tricky” decision, which will be issued some time this week.