Agenda item

DM/19/02431/FPA - The Wicket Gate, 193 Front Street, Chester-le-Street

Proposed removal of ground floor windows to Front Street elevation and insertion of sliding folding glazed doors to new openings formed


The Committee considered a report of the Planning Officer regarding an application for the removal of ground floor windows to be replaced with sliding folding glassed doors at the Wicket Gate, Chester le Street. 


The Planning Officer provided a detailed presentation of the application, which included a site location plan, aerial photographs of the area and a visual of the proposed doors.


The Chair thanked the Planning Officer for her detailed presentation. 


Mr Briggs, a local resident addressed the Committee in objection to the application.  He thanked the Committee for the opportunity to speak to express his concerns about the proposed development. Mr Briggs informed the Committee that his main issue was regarding the safety of the footpath outside the Wicket Gate. He told the committee that the footpath was not very wide and would be obstructed by people while they smoked outside. He felt that the installation of the folding doors would increase the number of people congregating on the path making it dangerous for pedestrians trying to get past especially those pushing prams who would have to walk in the road to continue their journey. 


Mr Briggs notified the committee that the congestion on the path would be dangerous for motorists as it would cause a distraction as they navigated the small mini round outside the pub.  He felt there would be more litter and rubbish in the area including broken glass that would also make the path unsafe.  He told the committee that the open windows would increase noise pollution for residents along with an escalation in anti-social behaviour.


Mr Hibb, representative of JD Wetherspoon thanked the Committee for the opportunity to speak in support of the application. Mr Hibb informed the Committee that the Wicket Gate was undergoing renovation not only on the outside but also on the inside.  He informed the committee that the bar area would be re-located from the centre of the pub to the side and both the DJ box and dance floor would be removed. JD Wetherspoon had been granted planning permission to create a roof garden.  Mr Hibb notified the committee that people who smoked would be encouraged to use the roof garden once it was opened to alleviate the obstruction on the pavement outside. 


Mr Hibb told the committee that the proposed folding glassed doors would only remain open between the hours of 9am and 9pm.  He informed the committee that the pub would not play live music which would reduce the amplified noise causing less nuisance to residents.  He told the committee there was a management plan in place to alleviate the negative impact of the pub on residents. Mr Hibb notified the committee that members of staff frequently checked the outside area of the pub and CCTV cameras to ensure there was no anti-social behaviour or litter.  He stated that people who ordered taxi’s were encouraged to wait on the premises to avoid creating queues on the path outside. Mr Hibb informed to the committee that a contact number for management had been circulated to nearby neighbours to make it easy for them to report any trouble and for management to resolve trouble quickly.


The Planning Officer informed the Committee that she had consulted with highways officers who had raised no concerns with the planning application.  Highways stated that there was no academic research to show that pedestrians on pavements caused distractions to drivers. 


The Chair thanked the Planning Officer and asked the Committee for their comments and questions.


Councillor S Wilson noted that the planning application for the installation of a roof garden for the Wicket Gate had been approved with similar conditions to this planning application. Councillor Wilson considered that the Wicket Gate was changing its appearance into a different type of pub with no live music.  He wanted to know if the noise could be controlled to cause no nuisance to residents.  He felt the pub could restrict drinks from being taken out of the pub on to the street to prevent any broken glass being left on the path. He stated he would be happy to move the Officer’s recommendations if the issues were addressed.


Councillor T Tucker raised concerns about the barrier that was proposed to be installed.  She felt that a glass barrier would be deemed unsafe.  There was potential that this could be broken.  She wanted to know if the barrier would be a fixed permanent structure and whether other building material could be used instead of glass.  The Planning Officer confirmed that the glass barrier would be a permanent structure set just outside the frame of the original windows.


                Councillor K Thompson felt that although there appeared to be no academic research that showed the loitering of people on pavements would cause a distraction to motorists, he was concerned that the police had voiced their objections to the application. He noted that due to budget cuts there were fewer police therefore people on the pavement would not be controlled.  He thought the application should be refused.


Councillor A Bell confirmed that the barrier would be permanent fixture but was happy that people could not physically walk through it and the only access to the pavement was through the existing door.


Councillor O Milburn was disappointed the roof garden had not already been installed.  She felt the roof garden could have acted as a bench mark to see if it had been successful in reducing the amount of people from the pub using the front street causing an obstruction. 


Councillor T Tucker reiterated her grave concern over the glass barrier to the front of the property.  She was not in favour to approve the application as it was a busy pavement with young mums, young people and the elderly walking past. She felt if the barrier was broken, glass would go everywhere making the pavement dangerous to those trying to use it. 


The Planning Officer stated that the developer could consider alternative materials.  Mr Hibbs agreed that JD Wetherspoon would consider alternative materials and noted the concerns if the glass shattered.    Mr Hibbs noted that safety glass would be used and potentially a metal railing installed to decrease the impact of damage.


The Planning and Development Solicitor reminded the committee that highway officers had not raised any concerns with the application and therefore the materials used for the barrier did not warrant discussion.  However, if a metal railing was added and it protruded onto the adopted highway then different consent would be required from highways.  A condition could be put in place in relation to what materials are used for the barrier.


Councillor C Martin shared the concerns over the barrier but was not confident that the Committee could reject the application on these grounds as these were more licensing issues than planning issues.  He was concerned that if the application was refused it could be overturned on appeal and costs could be incurred.


Councillor I Jewell stated that the proposed folding doors were no different to those used by other businesses on shop fronts on busy high streets and the original glass windows could be broken.  He was a little uneasy at upholding the issue of material used in the barrier as a planning consideration.


Councillor T Tucker declared that she did not object to the folding doors only the width of the barrier that could be classed as a hazard should it be broken as it overlooked a public footpath.  She gave an example of bus shelters that shattered when they were broken that caused hazardous areas for pedestrians.  Councillor Tucker was also concerned that the glass barrier would be clear that may not be visible to people who were under the influence of alcohol. 


Councillor I Jewell stated that similar glass would be used in the roof garden that planning permission was approved for.  He suggested that frosted opaque safety glass could be used for the barrier in this instance.


Councillor K Thompson wanted to know whether the objections raised by the police in the report were a material consideration to refuse the application.


The Planning and Development Solicitor noted that the concerns from the police were material regarding the obstruction to the pavement but they were not reinforced by highways who had no objections to the planning application.  He told the committee that highways gave no evidence that the obstruction would create a distraction to motorists. The concerns of the police could not be a sustained reason to refuse the application.


Councillor A Bell thought that the glass used in shops or bank fronts would be laminated for strength so it would not shatter or break.  He assumed the proposed glass barrier would be made of a similar strong material.  If the applicant was asked to use different material it would change the application requiring them to submit a new one to accommodate the changes.


The Planning and Development Solicitor informed the Committee that a condition could be included in the planning application for the use of suitable safer materials in the manufacture of the barrier subject approval from the Planning Officers. 


Councillor S Wilson proposed the approval of the application and seconded by Councillor C Martin.


Upon a vote it was unanimously



That the application be APPROVED subject to the conditions contained in the report and an additional condition included with regards to the materials used in the manufacture of the barrier.


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