A site plagued by squatters will be turned into a café this summer despite the coronavirus pandemic and residents’ objections over noise.
Councillors granted a three-month premises licence for Picton Street Summer Garden even though one neighbour said he was so fed up with street drinkers urinating in his garden that he was building a drawbridge to stop them getting past his gate.
Bristol City Council’s licensing sub-committee heard a tenant trading at the property, on the corner of Ashley Road in Montpelier, had infuriated householders with outdoor barbecues from shelters built without planning permission.
Residents said they had suffered from bottles thrown at properties and smashed glass in the area.
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Jon Dalton, whose company Bloomsbury Leisure Holdings owns the property as well as The Crofters Rights pub in Stokes Croft and The Lanes bowling alley in Nelson Street, told members his firm had taken back control of the premises from the tenant as a result.
He said the business would not be a pub and that customers would be seated at tables, including about 30 outside.
The licence allows the sale of alcohol from midday until 9.30pm on Thursdays and 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, with the cafe closing half an hour later, from July 1 to September 30 this year only.
A dozen residents, Montpelier Conservation Group and the council’s pollution control team objected to the application.
Neighbour Kate Seddon, a doctor at the BRI, told the hearing on Thursday, May 14: “Any improvement of the use of the space would be brilliant.
“The main concern is the level of noise from a site so close to residential properties.
“Our garden is a sanctuary and a wonderful place to relax, and constant noise could fundamentally affect our quality of life at weekends.
“Not being able to go to sleep or having sleep disturbred could quite fundamentally affect not only my wellbeing but caring for my patients could also be difficult.
“There could be behaviour detrimental to the safety of our property.
“We’ve had experience repeatedly of bottles being thrown in our property and large amounts of smashed glass over the last year and a half, so that’s a major concern.”
Neighbour Arthur Musgrove said street drinkers were causing problems in the area.
“They have spent many months in the summer pushing open my garden gate and using the garden to relieve themselves,” he said.
“I am in the process of spending a lot of money building a drawbridge to keep people out.
“I have a concern about the drinking culture of Stokes Croft and Cheltenham Road being brought around the corner into Ashley Road and Picton Street.”
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Margaret Edwards, who has lived in the area for 38 years, said: “I simply do not trust the owner.
“I have grave doubts about the reassurances that have been given.
“This thing called a Summer Garden is such a misnomer.
“It will stop the residents who have lovely gardens along Ashley Road enjoying the peace and quiet of our gardens on a summer’s evening.
“It would be dreadful and have a huge impact on the quality of our lives.”
(Image: Google Maps)
Mr Dalton said there would be no live or recorded music, adding: “We are very sensitive to residents’ concerns.
“It is not a pub. People will be sitting down.
“It’s a restaurant/café with an ancillary licence.
“We are not going to have people wandering around the street with glasses.
“We do not have people smashing glasses outside The Crofters Rights or The Lanes.
(Image: Google Maps)
“When we bought Ashley Road and developed it, the idea was to put a tenant in to run it.
“Unfortunately that has not worked out. We have had to take the site back.
“We have squatters back in there, which is the second time in three months, so we really need to get this site utilised.”
He said all cooking would be done inside.
“I apologise that the outside was used for cooking by the previous tenant,” Mr Dalton said.
“That was never agreed.
“The shelters will be demolished. They should never have been put there.”
He said tables would be spread out to enable social distancing, which members heard could not be attached as a condition because businesses were already required to follow government guidance.
His solicitor Ewen Macgregor said the application was more restrictive than the hours granted by planning permission for the site in 2018.
“The premises in the recent past have been operated by a tenant of Mr Dalton and there has been behaviour that has fallen foul of local residents, but that should not reflect on Mr Dalton, an experienced and well-respected operator,” he said.
Mr Macgregor said the owner was investing £500,000 in the property.
Granting the licence with conditions, sub-committee chairwoman Cllr Eleanor Combley said: “We consider that having the site empty and subject to squatters and street drinkers would be more detrimental to the area in terms of public nuisance than the proposed use of it under this application.”
She said a new licence application would have to be submitted for subsequent years.