JD Wetherspoon pub on Bristol's Gloucester Road approved after seven-year battle
A large new Wetherspoons pub in Gloucester Road has been approved despite hundreds of objections.
Bristol city councillors granted planning permission on Wednesday 30 June, bringing to an end a seven-year battle by the chain to convert a boarded-up former shop which has been disused for 15 years.
The chain now plans to redevelop the building to transform it into a pub with a roof terrace which can hold 130 people. It says the plan will create 50 new jobs.
A total of 241 people objected to the proposals with concerns over noise, public safety, antisocial behaviour, parking and the view a large pub company was out of keeping with the independent nature of the road’s businesses.
But there were 59 comments in support from people who wanted to see the dilapidated building brought back into use, the area improved and the local economy receiving a jobs boost.
Six previous planning applications by JD Wetherspoon had been rejected or withdrawn since 2014.
Planning officers had recommended giving the go-ahead this time and told councillors they were satisfied their concerns had now been addressed.
The case officer told the meeting at City Hall the applicant’s identity was not a material consideration in planning terms and councillors must consider only the change of use to a generic pub.
There was no objection from the council’s highways department, including to the absence of on-site car parking.
The plans include a complete refurbishment of the building and two small extensions – one on the ground floor for a bin store and service access and the other on the first floor to create a roof terrace which must shut by 9pm daily and be limited to 130 people.
The rest of the pub will be open from 7am to 11.30pm from Sunday to Thursday and until 12.30am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Conditions of consent include sticking to agreed noise levels, which have been deemed acceptable, a home-fans-only policy on Bristol Rovers match days, extra security staff during cricket games at the County Ground and a direct line for neighbours to contact managers.
The planning officer said the location was acceptable for a pub and that the site could become a cafe, gym, health centre, nursery or office without the need for planning permission.
He said it would still mean pubs or bars accounted for only four per cent of commercial premises in the Gloucester Road area.
“We believe we have sufficient information to allay our concerns in relation to the impact on neighbouring properties,” he said.
“All previous concerns have now been resolved.”
Cllr Andrew Varney said: “The site has been largely derelict for 15 years. It’s high time it was brought back into use.
“From an environmental sustainability point of view I’m really pleased the existing building is going to be repurposed rather than demolished."
Committee chairman Cllr Richard Eddy said officers had made a convincing case, there was no over-concentration of pubs in the vicinity and neighbours’ amenity would not be imperilled.
Cllr Chris Jackson said: “I can’t see any issue. That building has been looking really shabby for a long time.
“It won’t impair other public houses or eateries.”
JD Wetherspoon, which owns the building, has said work should start next year and 50 jobs will be created.
Credit: Adam Postans, local democracy reporter