The Hare and Hounds in Bath, Somerset, built an outside bar after the first lockdown which proved to be a “lifeline” and added a decking area in the autumn.
While the decking area was being constructed, Bath & North East Somerset Council contacted the pub to request it to submit a request for pre-planning advice.
The council said they wanted the pub to take down the outside bar and suggested a three month period for the business to do this voluntarily before enforcement action in April.
The business has now submitted a full retrospective planning application and asked for neighbours to submit supportive comments on the council’s website.
Speaking to The Morning Advertiser, Bath Pub Company managing director Joe Cussens said should the council force the pub to deconstruct its outside area, it would spell “disaster” for business.
However, Cussens said he was hopeful the issue would not come to that and said he did not think Bath & North East Somerset council was trying to “undermine businesses.”
“Unfortunately, it's a fairly bureaucratic organisation like any council. When something like this ends up in a particular department, which has a very narrow remit, they can take a view which might be by the book and make sense but in the wider context, anyone would say ‘this is crazy’.”
“My hunch is ultimately common sense will prevail,” he added.
“My feeling is that given everything our industry has been through, they should be looking for opportunities to help and remove obstacles rather than put them in our way.”
In a letter to neighbours, Cussens said: “Despite their objection and notice of enforcement, we have the right for the development to be considered as part of a full retrospective planning application, which we have just submitted.
Social media support
“A full application differs to a pre-app insofar as the public have the opportunity to comment, support or object to it. We’re hoping we’ll receive sufficient support for the council to reconsider their objection and allow us to continue trading from it.”
The operator said his inbox had been “flooded” with supportive messages in addition to hundreds of engagements on social media.
Closed for the last 3 months. Finally reopen with a fantastic outdoor space and guess what? @bathnes want it taken down.— Joe Cussens (@joecussens) April 29, 2021
Have they lost the plot?!
Please help us by supporting our planning ap - click here to show your support https://t.co/2ubEbF0cnz
RTs greatly appreciated! pic.twitter.com/nvjUhfDYk5
Councillor Tim Ball, cabinet member for housing, planning and economic development, said no formal notice had been served at this time given the application for retrospective planning permission.
The councillor said there was a “solution available” for the Hare and Hounds.
He explained: “Our planning officers have made clear to Mr Cussens that we want to work with him on this solution and that we could support an alternative in this location, however he has continued with the works without planning permission.
“Notwithstanding Covid, the council does still have a statutory duty to investigate all reported breaches of planning control and respond appropriately.
“Our officers across planning and public protection have been working with businesses across B&NES to help them reopen, for example with our pavement licences of which 52 have been granted with only six refusals and we will continue to try and find a solution with Mr Cussens.”