Friday, 10 February 2017

Is small beautiful?

Last year, we lost a Hydes’ estate pub, the High Grove in Gatley, to residential development. This year, it looks as though we are going to lose another, the Ryecroft Arms in Cheadle Hulme. Something that occurred to me is that both pubs were next door to shopping parades, and a micropub in one of the shop units might stand a better chance of success than the archetypal “beached whale” estate pub, and provide some kind of drinking facility for the considerable local population. Indeed, the big, all-singing, all-dancing pub was probably something that always appealed more to the tidy minds of planners than to drinkers, who might have preferred something smaller and more intimate.

So I was interested to read that a micropub had been proposed for a shopping parade on a housing estate in Chesterfield. However, it has met with a perhaps surprising amount of opposition, with a 162-signature petition being lodged in protest.

The petition complains that the new pub would cause an increase in anti-social behaviour, including litter, vandalism and disturbance, particularly at night. It also claims the development would not fit with the ‘young family’ demographic of the area and could cause residents to fear for their or their families safety when passing.
On the face of it, this sounds like a ridiculous exaggeration. The typical micropub is somewhere that very much appeals to well-behaved, middle-aged, middle-class drinkers and it’s hard to imagine it being a focus of trouble. The factors behind the rise of micropubs are well described in this comment on Martin Taylor’s blog. The report goes on to say:
On the social-networking website Streetlife, Geoff W said: “I’m personally in favour of such a development, a micropub is not the sort of place lager louts would be seen dead in - they don’t play music, and there are no gaming machines. “They’re used by like minded adults to meet and to use the old art of conversation over a quality beer - you would not know it was there.”

And in a business plan submitted to Chesterfield Borough Council, the man behind it says he hopes to turn the shop into a ‘community real ale pub’. He goes on to add that ‘drunken behaviour is not a hall mark of this type of premises’.

However, by definition the capacity of a micropub is limited, and the dynamics of the situation are completely changed once the customers start to spill outside, especially if that is the only “smoking solution” available. If there’s often a bunch of drinkers standing around outside the front door, it’s understandable that residents may not be entirely happy. This will especially be the case if the customers are a bit younger, more lively and, dare I say it, more working-class than those of the classic micropub.

I hope that the application goes through, and that the fears prove groundless. But I can see why some locals might be concerned about it, and maybe it will need a ban on taking drinks outside, and a closing time earlier than 11 pm.


  1. Your blog is mainly read and commented on by people that like pubs. I recall a previous comment by RedNev on his own blog that proximity to a pub would be a positive factor in him chosing where to live.

    However not everyone is a pub enthusiast and some people may actively wish to live far from a pub. The idea that being neighbours to a pub is consequence free is not true. It will impact in their neighbours. Fag butts, late night noise, litter, drunks. You don't get that with a newsagent.

    It's not a case of chosing to live near or far from a pub, if a pub is being created near you.

    If the pub 15 minutes walk from my house closed I'm be sort of slightly sad at having to walk 20 minutes to get to the next one. I wouldn't sign a petition to keep it though. If my next door neighbour decided to open a pub I'd object. Firmly. I have never objected at the occasional party they have thrown, and they have not objected to mine, but neither of us is planning an open night every night of the week. Even if your pub is a small one just for middle age beardy pong sniffers, it's a still a pub with the issues pubs have.

    1. The Blocked Dwarf10 February 2017 at 16:40

      You don't get that with a newsagent.

      True,to a degree, but I currently live above a Fish N Chip shop and there are times, most evenings infact, I would much rather live over a micro-pub ...and as a proud smoker and dry alcoholic I don't much like pubs...not since they told me they didn't like me.
      Tough choice, what is worse, a few smoking 'pong sniffers' (love that!) standing outside, maybe after a half too many , having a fag and discussing OG and SG and the manifold advantages of top fermenting yeast or the constant stream of people leaving their Landys or 4x4's idling half on the pavement whilst-door slammingly-they go and get their 'tea' (won't be 'dinner' most of them are the wrong class for that). Or the chip throwing gangs of Kids who congeal outside the chippy every summer evening cos it's , apparently, The Place to be seen and impress the locals girls. The people who think our street is a bin for their half eaten battered fish and the mandatory couple of green chips in every bag? The drunks who come down from the pub late in the evening or the hash addicts with the 'munchies' -both of whom think what our street needs is more vomit, more empty bottles?

      Don't get me wrong, I get on very well with the Turkish lads who run the Traditional British Fish & Chip Emporium -they always bring me back Duty Frees and Turkish Delight when they go home and they really do make the best Fish & Chips in the area. I'll be getting my dinner (i was brought up proper like) there tonight. But there are consequences. Just saying. A micro pub might be an improvement.
      Apparently, so some old time City Dwelling friends, the best place to live above is a brothel. NO one ever hangs around in front of one, no one parks anywhere near it, and the rooms tend to be sound proofed.

  2. The trend in recent years has been for pubs in general to move out of residential areas and cluster in shopping areas where customers don't directly impinge on residents.

  3. It's a shame that having the potential for anti-social behaviour is grounds for opposition to a new pub, especially when that may prove to be unfounded, though I have some sympathy with their fears. But this isn't just happening to new pubs.

    In Cambridge, a pub continuously licensed since the 1880s, latterly a gastro-pub, which new owners want to increase capacity of (not by enlarging the building, but by moving the kitchen upstairs to make better use of space) has also faced opposition. Resident's cited concerns that "it will ruin the character of a quiet neighbourhood., with in-coming traffic, used-up parking spaces, car-door-slamming, customers queuing, diners carousing, music playing, meals cooking and all kinds of kitchen clatter". Nothing particularly anti-social there, just reasonable noises in a city surely, even in a backstreet. Is this just people becoming less tolerant of other people in general? "First they came for the church bell ringers, and I said nothing..." and all that.

  4. Having visited quite a few micropubs - we now have several in Southport - I haven't come across one in a purely residential area, so CL's worries that his party-throwing neighbours may decide to make a daily business of it are unlikely to materialise. The objections you list, CM, are identical to those I've read for every proposed development around here, and for the most part have proved unfounded. Micropubs that had early closing, such as 9.00 pm, imposed upon them, have been able to demonstrate that the area didn't suddenly turn into Dodge City and, if they wanted, have been granted later opening upon reapplication. However, I do know of one who is quite happy with his 9.00 pm closing and at present has no plans to change it.

    I do wonder whether a variant of micropubs may arise with rows of fonts serving only lager, gaming machines around all the walls and loud piped music.

    1. The keg lager variant is already springing up in Birkenhead. Cask beer yet to be discovered.

    2. For quite a while we've had a number of "café-bars" in former shop units that have no aspriations to serve real ale.

  5. the odd thing is those objections are almost word for word the same objections raised when Wetherspoons attempted to open a pub in Felixstowe,which nearly 3 years later has not progressed beyond plans on paper, and they made just as little sense there. Makes me wonder if not unlike those template emails to politicians, there are such things as template objections to pubs on the interweb somewhere, and regardless of how applicable they are to the type of pub or location, it still allows outraged of Tunbridge Wells to register an objection.

  6. I agree with Stono's comments regarding the objections,it is interesting to see that the comments in the newspaper article are all in favour of the micro pub. I also agree that a change of use from a takeaway will lead to a reduction in anti social behaviour

  7. It's a communication problem I think. If you are putting in an application for change of use you really have to go on a charm offensive with everyone involved to let them know exactly what it is you will be doing. There will still be objections but hopefully a lot of support too.

  8. A planning application was made last year to change the former left luggage room at Monkseaton (a sub-suburb of Whitley Bay) Metro station into a micro pub called The Left Luggage Room. Adjacent to those premises is... a nursery, and the objections came from far and wide. Never mind that there are no houses within 200 yards, or that the opening hours wouldn't ever coincide with those of the nursery, or that the target customer base would be middle class professionals. Oh no, the busybodies had to have their moments of self-importance... it was going to be a terrible influence on the children, drunks rolling around in the street after midnight, you name it. Thankfully North Tyneside Council saw sense and passed the application without delay. The pub is usually busy and populated largely by middle class liberals, and I'm pleased to report that no children have been harmed.


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