Keith’s Column: The Prince Threatened by New Development
Thursday, 10th December 2015
I read recently that Moseley has the highest concentration of post
graduates in the country. The city is on the up and there is no better
place to live. HS2, the private park, festivals, Michelin Star food at
Carters, cafe culture and now officially the best pub in the land with
our British Institute of Innkeeping Licensees of the Year award.
All good news, but for us personally, there is a massive cloud on the
horizon. The building site next door. I am sure there will be a big
demand for the 50 luxury apartments about to be built next to the
Prince, but for the pub there is no doubt this is potential disaster.
With over 75% of our revenue coming on Friday and Saturday nights, where
the main reason to visit, even in winter, is the beer garden, any
restrictions on our license would threaten the survival of the Prince.
This development features balconies overlooking our beer garden so no
matter how good the triple glazing is, with so many units so close to so
many people enjoying their beer, there is certain to be noise
complaints. Not necessarily from music or an event, just from lots of
people talking outside after 11pm.
We are blessed with our current neighbours and we try hard to strike the
right balance. Diane and I are grateful for their support. They are
tolerant of the noise generated by the pub and we try hard to be a good
operator, informing them of the dates and times of events in advance,
ending events early and monitoring noise levels.
So how do we protect the pub from this threat? The obvious route of
fighting the developer through the planning system is simply a waste of
time. In 2010 when the expiry of the scheme’s earlier planning consent
forced a new application, we fought a strong campaign to get planning
refused. Despite letters, petitions, support from the Police, the Fire
Service and others, we failed.
When the Planning Committee voted at the end of the open meeting, we won
and the scheme was refused. Our joy was short lived as the Chair of the
committee invited councillors into a private room, returning for another
vote 20 minutes later. A second vote went in favour of the scheme as the
Council were too feeble to risk losing an appeal and the legal costs
this would entail. A decision that completely undermines the system.
So how do we defend the pub? Our plan is to raise funds, then lobby
friends and investors to buy a significant number of the apartments on a
buy to let basis. We already have in place a deed that all purchasers,
and their successors in title, will agree not to complain about the pub.
If we can then have some friendly landlords, whose tenants also commit
to such an agreement, our defence will be much stronger.
The apartments will be complete in 2017. If you are interested in
helping us protect the Prince via this approach, please get in touch.