Neighbours angry at St Albans pub decision

Joe Waller, Robert Pankhurst, Geoff Dyson and Norman James outside The Brickyard Pub in St Albans

Joe Waller, Robert Pankhurst, Geoff Dyson and Norman James outside The Brickyard Pub in St Albans - Credit: Archant

Irate neighbours of a pub which has undergone unauthorised refurbishment in St Albans’ conservation area have blasted district councillors for being “weak and inconsistent” with planning decisions.

And they are concerned they will suffer from excessive noise after the pub owner applied for changes to the licence.

Residents living near the Spotted Bull – recently renamed The Brickyard – in Verulam Road have reacted angrily to news of St Albans district council agreeing to changes to the formerly run-down establishment.

Owner James Hanning recently gained approval for five schemes, including construction of front and rear patios, installing access for disabled people and repainting exterior walls.

The council’s central planning committee gave the go-ahead despite officers recommending refusal of both patios, and objections from neighbours and the St Albans Civic society.

Also, the authority issued an enforcement notice on April 17 for a breach of planning control, after James built unapproved extensions to the side and rear as he hoped to open his pub as quickly as possible.

James has appealed against the notice and is awaiting a response from the planning inspectorate.

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Joe Waller, of College Street, said: “The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing at the council. It’s outrageous.

“Mr Hanning has acted in such a spoilt and cavalier manner towards the local planning department and, I may add, his neighbours.”

Joe said his criticism was “not a case of sour grapes” as he had bought a Grade II listed home near the venue knowing full well the pub was nearby.

He added: “We restored it back to a good condition after many years of neglect. This was of course overseen by all the relevant planning, historic and building regulations.”

Robert Pankhurst, secretary of Abbey Precincts Residents Association (APRA), said the committee’s decision in spite of officer’s recommendations and the unauthorised extensions showed a “glaring inconsistency with the council’s issue of an enforcement order.

“As residents we feel that this weakness betrays a lack of real interest in the conservation area.”

The association has objected to James’s application for a variation of a licence for the pub.

Concerns include that with the unauthorised extensions more than doubling the service area capacity of the previous pub, this could result in “higher noise levels”.

Joe added: “I can’t put in double glazing in my Grade II home, because of planning regulations.”

The committee approved the various schemes because councillors decided they would not be detrimental to the conservation area.