Your article on unauthorised building at The Spotted Bull public house (20 March) highlights the owner’s frustration at delays in the Council’s planning review. However, as could also be said about the photograph you used, there is more to this than meets the eye – much more in fact, as seen at the rear of the site.
Relevant history can be tracked in part on the SADC website. Despite objections from neighbours on both sides of Verulam Road about the likely noise and parking problem, plans were approved last September for a rear extension replacing the scruffy flat-roof storage areas added to the two-cottage building in 1980, and exterior paving on the east side of the public area. Accompanying documents proposed public use of the garden area until 11 pm with clients drinking inside until 12.30 am, but Mr Hanning suggested enclosing the side door area to discourage excessive outdoor use. Plans for this were registered in October but incorporated a large enclosed area, essentially doubling the indoor bar area of the original public house. This was again objected to by residents on the grounds of overdevelopment and increased disturbance. Although he was advised that there would be problems with, he decided to move the side extension to the rear, closer still to the listed houses in College Street and with wide opening doors at front and back, so that in summer the bar area would be effectively continuous with the garden – it could be like our neighbours having a garden party every night through the summer. These third stage plans appeared briefly on-line but were then withdrawn and as a result two major letters of objection have never appeared on the consultation website. The constant round of changing plans, lack of open consultation and appeals to the enforcement officer clearly contributed to the delay in a decision. Nevertheless, building has proceeded in defiance of planning advice.
SADC has now refused the application for the second stage BUT as can be seen the extension is largely complete – and significantly more intrusive than in the plans that have just been refused! Unless SADC stand firm on this, the owner will have imposed a large unauthorised building on the Conservation Area purely by chancing his arm on not being challenged, which makes a mockery of the planning process and would open the flood gates to unscrupulous developers. That cannot be right.
On behalf of
Abbey Precincts Residents Association
Aboyne Residents Association
Verulam Road Residents Association
The residents of 9-19 College Street