Keith’s Column: The Prince Threatened by New Development

Thursday, 10th December 2015

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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.