Neighbours’ anger after St Albans pub given the green light to open

The Brickyard Pub in St Albans

The Brickyard Pub in St Albans - Credit: Archant

Residents have spoken of their disappointment after a newly-refurbished city centre pub got the go-ahead to open from a district council licensing committee last week.

James Hanning, owners of The Brickyard - formerly the Spotted Bull - in Verulam Road, St Albans, has had a fraught relationship with his neighbours since taking it over last year.

It was exacerbated when he built extensions to the side and rear of the listed building without planning permission - a move which goes before the Planning Inspectorate for a decision next month.

As a result of the changes to the building, he had to apply for a variation of premises licence and after failing to persuade councillors to grant a licence in September, he was successful in his application last Wednesday.

James, who has had 20 years in the pub trade including running Bar 62 in Catherine Street, St Albans, opened fully for the first time last Friday and, until next Spring at least, plans to open from Wednesdays to Sundays only. The Brickyard is open to over-25s only.

He described the pub which he took over in June 2013 as being in such a terrible state that ‘even the rats were leaving’ and admitted he was delighted it was now open. “It is really energising having people in here.”

He added that he was hopeful of winning residents round because he was determined to be a good neighbour and keep noise levels acceptable.

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But Robert Pankhurst, secretary of the Abbey Precincts Residents Association, admitted they were ‘desperately disappointed’ that a council licensing committee had come to a decision diametrically opposed to that it had reached in September.

He went on: “Overturning decision and recommendations to the detriment of city centre residents seems to be a characteristic of our current local government.

“The Brickyard is yet another example of entrepreneurial business imposing a late night wine bar on the city centre without regard to the objections of residents whose lives are affected by it.”

Robert added: “This has been achieved bit-by-bit by laying siege to the planning and licensing departments who operate independently of each other so that even while a building has an enforcement notice for its removal, a licence can be granted for its use and further planning applications approved that relate to its setting.”