Passers-by may have noticed that Wetherspoon’s have put in another application to convert 349 Gloucester Road into one of their pubs.
Whilst not opposed in principle to the development, I believe there are an overwhelming number of downsides to the application and so think that it should be refused.
Principally, these issues relate to noise, anti-social behaviour, odour, public health, parking, and the impact on the wider Gloucester Road retail area.
For these reasons, and given the strong public response to the application, if the officer recommendation is to approve then I plan on referring the application to be considered by a committee of councillors.
My full statement on the application is below:
The last time Wetherspoons made an application for this site I commented that, whilst it would be nice to get this building back into use, there were issues such as the over-intensification of this type of outlet in the area, the fact that this is a Cumulative Impact Area, anti-social behaviour, and noise. To me, none of these issues have changed or have been mitigated by the new proposal and so I remain opposed to it. I shall expand on my opinions below:
Firstly, the positives. This building is a derelict eyesore, and it would be great to have it back into use. Having a pub (or indeed any business) here would also provide jobs. And I do acknowledge that some effort has been made to mitigate noise through acoustic shielding and plants on the roof.
Whilst not opposed in principle to the development, there are many negatives to this application, and I believe they strongly outweigh the positives:
- Firstly, and arguably most importantly, Gloucester Road is a Cumulative Impact Area. This means that the default position for new alcohol outlets should be to refuse, with extreme mitigating circumstances needed to approve the application. This certainly does not apply here.
- Gloucester Road is a proudly independent row of shops, and is one of the jewels in the crown of Bristol’s retail offering. A national chain (of any type, pub or otherwise) coming to the road damages the independent ethos and brings the danger of cannibalising trade from elsewhere on the high street. With regards to this specific application, Gloucester Road already has a proliferation of pubs and bars, and Wetherspoon’s will also be likely to compete with the cafes and restaurants too. In addition, Gloucester Road already has many pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants. Therefore, I believe this development would represent over-intensification on the high street.
- I have concerns about the impact on anti-social behaviour that this development would bring. The police already have to deal with alcohol-related anti-social behaviour in the area, and the community, traders and Bristol Waste already have to clear away the mess that is left behind. Any pub is likely to bring with it associated alcohol-related anti-social behaviour, and a Wetherspoon’s is likely to be worse than most given its larger size and lower prices. Therefore, this development is going to make the anti-social behaviour problem worse.
- Residents have also raised specific concerns about match day anti-social behaviour. We already experience more issues on match days (both football and cricket), and this development can only exacerbate the problem.
- It is very likely that the ground floor outdoor area will result in overspill onto the pavement, making an unsafe environment for passers-by, who will be caught between (drunken) revellers and the busy road. I do not feel that the proposed pavement café management plan adequately manages the possibility, or impact, of overspill/overcrowding.
- Not only will a large, cheap outlet for alcohol result in anti-social behaviour, but there will be an adverse impact on public health that should be taken into consideration too.
- In the transport statement, the applicant is promoting on-street parking along nearby roads for its customers. The parking situation in the area is already extremely difficult, with resulting frustration and even confrontations between motorists. It is irresponsible of Wetherspoon’s to be promoting even more on-street parking locally.
- I am also worried about the impact of odour from the development. Residents backing on to Gloucester Road already suffer from the impact of smells from businesses, so it should be ensured that this application would not exacerbate the problem.
- The final major issue I am concerned about is noise. The comments from the residents who back onto Gloucester Road are overwhelming, and their individual examples are useful to illustrate the issue. Given the semi-enclosed nature of the roof terrace it is likely to become an echo chamber. Even the applicant’s noise impact assessment acknowledges that there will be an impact on residents from the terrace.
- Many of these issues, such as noise, anti-social behaviour, public health, etc. will be made worse in comparison to other nearby pubs due to the excessive and inappropriate opening hours proposed.
To close, I said on the previous application, whilst Wetherspoon’s establishments can and do have a place in some retail areas, I do not feel that this location is suitable, nor is the application itself satisfactory. Therefore, I believe that the application should be denied for the reasons stated above.
Furthermore, if the officer recommendation is to approve the application, then I intend on referring the application in to be considered by a committee of councillors so that democratic oversight can be given on the decision.