Anger after Wetherspoon’s plan for new pub in St Ives is approved


- Credit: Archant

Following months of dispute, Huntingdonshire District Council has approved plans for JD Wetherspoon to open a new pub in St Ives.

Following months of dispute, Huntingdonshire District Council has approved plans for JD Wetherspoon to open a new pub in St Ives.

The decision was made at a development management panel meeting held on Monday night, with 11 councillors voting in favour and two against, with two abstentions.

Objectors though, including St Ives Town Council and the Civic Society of St Ives, have been fighting the case since the national chain first proposed to move into Market Hill in April last year.

Noise levels from the proposed beer garden were among the main concerns, and objectors asked for it to be removed or a time restriction placed on it.

Mark Shaw, who lives near the site, said: “To have it open until 9pm just seems like Huntingdonshire District Council are looking after Wetherspoons’ interests at a higher level than individual residents’.”

A noise report was carried out to measure levels at “sensitive trading hours and residual night time hours”, but these were “based on background noise”. Unhappy with this, Mr Shaw carried out his own reports, but says they have not been taken into consideration.

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He added: “Background noise is not intrusive, whereas a beer garden has sharp exclamations. It’ll be used for times we want to spend outside and have our windows open. Now my little girl can’t go to bed until 9pm in the summer.”

Speaking at Monday night’s panel meeting, Councillor Sarah Conboy said: “For neighbours to move next to a pub with a beer garden already in place is one thing, but to suddenly acquire a beer garden is quite a different thing.

“I have huge sympathy for the impact that this could have on people.”

The plan was approved so long as an acoustic fence was fitted around the garden and a noise sensor was installed, alerting staff behind the bar if levels get too high.

Mr Shaw says this is nothing but an acceptance of the noise, and he is now contemplating a judicial review whereby a court can consider an action carried out by a public body.

He has already filed a complaint to the council’s environmental health team, as well as the ombudsman, but has spent £1,000 himself trying to fight the issue.

The application had been deferred before, after St Ives Town Council raised its concerns.

As well as noise, it fears changing the building’s use to a drinking establishment will increase crime, and claims a police report into this “only considered a limited area of the town centre”.

In an October review, however, Huntingdonshire District Council says this category change “would help to improve the overall environment of the town centre”.

Lee Bradley, from JD Wetherspoon, told councillors: “We believe that the application has a lot of positive points for the area.

“Footfall is something that we believe will benefit, the town will be more competitive, it will bring employment to the area, and it will see an empty shop reused.

“We responded to the concerns of people in the area and were willing to make some major changes to the plan in response to those.

“We do require a beer garden to make this work and we have management plans in place.”