The Craster Arms in Beadnell could be forced to bulldoze £140,000 beer garden revamp

A popular pub which carried out a £140,000 transformation of its beer garden during the Covid pandemic could be forced to tear it down.

Thursday, 16th June 2022, 1:44 pm

The Craster Arms in Beadnell is seeking planning permission for the outdoor dining pods it built during the Covid pandemic.

However, the retrospective application is being recommended for refusal at Northumberland County Council planning committee meeting next Thursday.

Now, the pub has launched a petition calling for supporters to make their voices heard ahead of decision-day – and it has attracted over 1,200 signatures in just 24 hours.

The beer garden at The Craster Arms.

Pub owner Michael Dawson said: “There is a huge amount of support for the pods, evidenced by the petition but also by what we’re hearing locally.

"It’s been unanimously supported by the parish council and there have been no local objections but a case officer has decided that it’s detrimental to the listed building that is the Craster Arms.”

The four timber pods and an outdoor shack, known as the Nest Bar, were constructed in the summer of 2020.

The application seeks full planning permission for the 36-seat Nest Bar and temporary (three years) permission for the six-seater pods.

Planning permission is being sought for outdoor dining pods.

Michael said: “It was never really done as a commercial venture. It’s made no difference to the number of people we can get in the beer garden.

"It was done before we could get planning permission because it was a direct response to what we faced at the time.

"The idea was to provide a safe space for people, especially the vulnerable and high risk, so they could still come out and enjoy hospitality on the Northumberland coast.

"We came up with the best design we possibly could to create a nice, attractive area and we spent a lot of money on it.

A 36-seat dining area.

“There are people who are still nervous about Covid and that is likely to be the case for some time. It hasn’t gone away. Unfortunately, the case officer appears to think it has.

"But we do think there is an incredibly strong case for councillors to overturn that recommendation for a project that has been widely accepted by the community.”

The planning department has raised concerns about the impacts of the proposal upon the setting of the listed building, conservation area and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Senior planner Jon Sharp reports: ‘The siting of five structures, albeit some of which are temporary, within the setting of the Grade II listed building has resulted in harm to its aesthetic and historic significance.

Another view of the beer garden.

‘The cumulative impact of so many structures in the immediate setting of the listed building, and the resulting impact on the character and appearance of the conservation area is considered to be harmful.

‘Given that all restrictions have now been lifted, it is officer opinion that Covid related adjustments are not sufficient to justify the type of development proposed.’

During lockdown, the pub provided free hot meals to 93 vulnerable and shielding members of the local community.

“We’re at the heart of the community,” said Michael. “We supported them then and the support we’re getting from them now is fantastic.”

To sign the petition, click here

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Artwork on the back of the dining pods.