Green light finally granted for St Albans pub refurbishment plan

The Spotted Bull pub

The Spotted Bull pub - Credit: Archant

A determined pub owner has finally had some good news from the district council, which has agreed to changes to a formerly run-down establishment in St Albans’ conservation area.

James Hanning, who has lived in St Albans for a decade, bought the run-down Spotted Bull in Verulam Road in July last year, and set about refurbishing and extending it.

He pushed ahead with extensions to the side and rear of the listed building, despite not having permission from St Albans district council.

This won him disapproval from some neighbours, who labelled the extensions as “monstrous” and at odds with the quiet, residential location.

It also earned James a slap over the wrist from the council, which issued an enforcement notice in April for a breach of planning control.

James has since appealed against the notice to remove the additions – still under consideration by the planning inspectorate.

On Monday, though, James was given the go-ahead for five schemes, including construction of a front and rear patio, installing access for disabled people and repainting exterior walls.

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Approval was granted at the council’s central planning committee, despite officers recommending refusal of both patios.

St Albans Civic Society had objected to James’s scheme for a rear patio – already partially built – saying it would create additional noise for neighbours.

The organisation added that it was “deeply concerned the applicant has been able to continue carrying out building works without the necessary approved plans”.

Neighbours objected to an “overdevelopment of the site” and “disregard of planning laws”.

After the meeting committee vice-chairman Cllr Mal Pakenham said that James faced further hurdles before being able to open the pub, including having the premises licensed.

He said councillors had decided that a back patio would not be detrimental to the conservation area.

And with more pubs closing in the district, Cllr Pakenham has called upon the council to include special provision for them in the draft Strategic Local Plan, the district’s planning blueprint.

He added: “About 40 pubs have closed in St Albans over the last 100 years. As a planning authority we should consider having a policy that can maintain their existence.”

James acknowledged neighbours’ concerns, saying that the pub would be insulated to lessen noise, and there would also be a noise monitoring device.

The pub is being renamed “The Brickyard” after a brick yard in operation in the vicinity until the 1820s.