A FORMERLY “run-down backstreet pub” has been told it can keep decking used as an outside drinking area following a council probe.
Torfaen Borough Council officials launched an enforcement investigation after they became aware of the timber-style decking that had been placed in front of the Mount Pleasant Inn in Wesley Street, Old Cwmbran, and in its car park against the wall of the neighbouring Masonic Hall, as part of a refurbishment.
It was feared council officials could order the garden-style decking to be ripped up as it didn’t have planning permission, undoing the hard work of tenant landlord Jack Johnson since taking over the pub just over a year ago.
The decking placed at the front of the Mount Pleasant Inn (Pic: Torfaen County Borough Council planning file)
Owners Red Oak Taverns then had to make a full planning application to retain the decking areas – which, after nearly four months of deliberations, the council’s planning department has agreed to.
Council bureaucrats sent letters to neighbouring properties, asked Cwmbran council and contacted all the borough councillors representing the area for their views on the decking, but only the local community council replied and that was only to say it had no objection or even any observations to make.
The original application form submitted by the firm had stated: “The landlord tenant has discussed this proposal with a number of local residents and patrons, the majority of which would appear to be in favour of the development.”
A planning statement compiled for the firm also described how the decking had helped revive the pub’s fortunes. It said the refurbishment had “seen a run-down back street pub transform into a vibrant, welcoming establishment providing food and beverages to the local community.”
It said the “modest” decking “transformed the business and local community” and pleaded with the council not to order it be cleared. It said: “Enforcement action for the removal of these deck areas would have a detrimental impact upon both the business, including the scope to offer employment opportunities, and the wider community.”
The statement said since adding the decking the pub’s trade has grown “substantially” and that it had employed two full-time and one part-time members of staff from the local community and could possibly employ further staff.
The seating area in the car park of the Mount Pleasant Inn next to a wall of the Masonic Hall (Pic: Torfaen County Borough Council planning file)
As part of the application the firm provided photographs stretching back more than 20 years showing the part of the pub’s car park where the decking is in place has been used continuously since at least 2001 as an outside seating and drinking area.
Planning officer Simon Pritchard agreed the decking could be retained and wrote in his report: “There would be no significant difference in terms of noise and disturbance given the previous outside seating/drinking area to the front.
“The decked area, located to the north of the Masonic Hall/community centre, would have minimal impact given its distance away from residential properties.”
He also said the height of the decking isn’t considered to be excessive and had no significant visual impact as they are setback within pub’s grounds and are viewed against a backdrop of a wooden picket fence to the front of the pub and fenced gardens of neighbouring properties.
The decking at the front of the pub is to be reduced in size to 5.5 metres by 2.5m deep and 0.628m at its highest point and this has now been agreed as a planning condition.