Partial approval of pub’s bid to change outdoor hours

Corn Exchange, Alnwick
Corn Exchange, Alnwick

A change to JD Wetherspoon’s approved scheme for a pub in Alnwick to allow later access to the outdoor area was partially approved tonight.

One of the conditions of the approval, 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’.

There was some confusion in the planning officer’s report, as in one case it mentioned that the pub giant wanted merely to change that to read 10pm – as reported in today’s Gazette – but in fact the applicant wanted to alter it 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.

In the end, 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.

It relates to the company’s £1.3million plans to convert the town’s derelict grade II-listed Corn Exchange into a Wetherspoon’s pub, with a bar and customer area downstairs, toilets on a mezzanine first floor and a beer garden.

A resident whose property neighbours the proposed beer garden spoke against the change at tonight’s meeting due to the affect it would have on him and others living nearby, but the planning officer had recommended approval as the only other area where smokers could go is at the front of the building immediately adjacent to the block of flats above the steps leading to Bondgate Within, thus affecting those residents.

For JD Wetherspoon’s reaction to tonight’s decision, check the Gazette website tomorrow.