Lancaster music pub 'disappointed' as it loses fight to block controversial flats plan
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Lancaster councillors have granted planning permission with conditions for new flats above 4 China Street, opposite The Pub venue, which has been in business for nearly 20 years.
Around 1,800 people had objected to the flats plan including Lancaster rock band Massive Wagons and city duo The Lovely Eggs, saying it threatened The Pub and Lancaster’s wider nightlife.
However, Lancaster City Council’s Development Control Committee has approved an application from TFHT Properties Ltd for the new flats to be created by dividing an existing maisonette. TFHT Properties is working with Steve Donnelly of Lancaster-based Alston & Donnelly Architecture Ltd on the project.
Planning officers had recommended councillors approve the application but with the right type of windows, noise-controls and ventilation systems to make any music complaints unlikely. In turn, The Pub and other Lancaster venues would less likely become the subject of complaints from residents, officers believe.
In a statement after this week’s planning decision, The Pub said: “As expected, the proposal to develop three flats directly opposite The Pub received unanimous approval at the planning committee meeting.
“As disappointing as this is, approval does come with ‘noise mitigation’ conditions. The Pub will now seek assurances that these conditions are fully implemented and that future operations at the venue are not curtailed.”
Before the planning meeting, Robert Morrish, of Lancaster Castle Holdings which trades as The Pub, had written to object to the China Street flats plan. He said the prospect of residential housing directly opposite The Pub gave ‘significant cause for concern’. He believed the sound control measures proposed by TFHT Properties were not enough.
Mr Morrish also said The Pub had done various work over the years to control any music disturbance. This included sound-proofing walls and floors, installing double glazed windows and placing time restrictions on amplified music.
The venue also has an outdoor space and uses temporary events licences for performances there working with the city council. The Pub has operated for 19 years, built a good reputation and also worked hard to be a good neighbour, Mr Morrish added.
City councillors were told that any proposed new development must take into account existing businesses including music venues. Existing businesses could not have unreasonable restrictions forced upon them by new property developments.
A planning report stated: “Where the operation of an existing business could have a significant adverse effect on new development, the applicant (or agent of change) should provide suitable mitigation. Policies seek to protect cultural assets, including licensed music venues, and support the district’s night-time economy.”
Previously, a noise assessment by the flat developers was submitted with the original planning application but Lancaster environmental health officers raised concerns with it. Subsequently, the applicant commissioned another assessment which was then accepted.
The China Street flats plan includes a ventilation system which would bring in fresh air without the need to open some front windows. If people living in the flats choose to open windows facing The Pub, that should be their choice and not essential.
Planning officers said noise impacts and complaints are more likely under the current situation, where there is no secondary glazing or ventilation system at the maisonette.