Wetherspoons on Gloucester Road 'would harm Bishopston ambiance'

July 28 2016

Councillors for Bishopston and Ashley Down have objected to the latest application from pub chain JD Wetherspoon to build a new pub on the site of 349 Gloucester Road.

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Councillors for Bishopston and Ashley Down have objected to the latest application from pub chain JD Wetherspoon to build a new pub on the site of 349 Gloucester Road. 

This will be the third time the giants of the pub industry have tried to convince the council that developing the site, which has long been left abandoned, would not negatively affect residents.

Wetherspoons held a consultation in April but it does not seem to have helped with the concerns that many feel. 

One change that has been welcomed is a planned rooftop terrace has been dropped but the size and opening hours still have many worried.

A further objection is that Gloucester Road is a Cumulative Impact Area, meaning there should be a limited growth of licensed premises because of past problems with alcohol.Tom Brook, Labour councillor for Bishopston and Ashley Down, wrote in his objection on the council planning website: “Whilst we would love to see this building back in use for the community, and whilst Wetherspoons have improved their application since last time, there are still issues with the application.”

“I believe that the development, if approved, would reduce residential amenity through increased noise (due to the outdoor smoking area and alcohol-related anti-social behaviour.) The development is almost certain to result in increased anti-social behaviour which, in addition to noise, creates a public nuisance that the Police and other services will have to deal with.”

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon responded with a statement: “We hosted a consultation with local people to show our plans for the pub scheme.

“The overall impression was favourable and following the consultation we have put in our planning application. Wetherspoon has an excellent reputation for the quality of its pubs and the high standards of its staff. We are committed to being good neighbours and pride ourselves on this.

 “It is presumptive of the councillor to say there will be issues which the police will need to be involved with. We would point to the fact that Wetherspoon has been awarded more Best Bar None awards, awarded for providing safe pubs, than any other pub company.”

Neil Embleton, speaking on behalf Bishopston Society, echoed the fact that there would be a massive negative effect on the area. 

“The opening of such a large establishment – largely alcohol led and with such late opening hours – would harm the ambiance of Bishopston and the quality of life of nearby residents not to mention the impact on independent local traders who are the hallmark of the Gloucester Road. The importance of this application to the local community cannot be overstressed,” he said.

Not everyone is in opposition;  a minority of residents have logged support for the proposed pub. Some have welcomed the fact that a site that has been left disused for some time will be developed. Others have welcomed the business, jobs and cheap food that the pub could potentially provide.

Brian Williams, of Rozel Road supports the application, writing: “This premises has stood as an eyesore long enough for the type of  'Independent Traders' associated with Gloucester Road to have taken the opportunity to use it. But they haven't - so let a company who is prepared to spend money improve the look of our High Street!

Judith Smith from Bishopston commented: "My husband and I would be happy to go there and use it regularly. They offer good meals, a huge variety and are not expensive. We've stayed at the Wether Lodges in Tewkesbury and find they are well-run establishments and close the gardens at 10pm. We've lived here for over 50 years and the Gloucester Road is full of food smells - there are a whole load of restaurants here."

The planning application remains open and residents can comment online.