Celebrations after bistro bar appeal is dismissed

RESIDENTS who opposed plans for a new bar and bistro in Ponteland are celebrating after an appeal was dismissed by a planning inspector.

The application from Newco (Ponteland) Ltd for a two-storey bar and restaurant in Bell Villas, which was formerly a Co-op store and Wine Rack off-licence, caused great concern among people living next door to the site.

They said there would be noise disturbance from music and waste disposal operations, odours from cooking and nuisance from what they believe is inadequate parking facilities in the area.

They also believe that Ponteland does not need another establishment where people can come along to eat and drink.

Earlier this year the bid was refused by Northumberland County Council’s west area planning committee on the grounds that it would be an unacceptable loss of retail space, despite officers recommending conditional approval.

Although planning inspector Ian Jenkins said the bar and bistro was unlikely to give rise to an unacceptable increase in on-street parking in the locality (taking into account the lack of an objection from the authority’s highways department) and that noise and odours issues could be prevented through conditions, he did agree with the councillors’ reason for refusal.

His report says: “The marketing statement was produced in August 2010, less than 10 months after the marketing of the property began, and the statement does not make clear over what part of this relatively limited marketing period website advertising was undertaken.

“The appellant has indicated that, following the production of the marketing statement, between August 2010 and April 2011 no offers to take on the unit in retail use were received.

“However, in the absence of details concerning the manner in which the premises were marketed during that later period, I give this outcome little weight.

“Based on the evidence presented, I agree with the council that the appellant has not taken all reasonable steps to effectively market the appeal premises for retail use.

“I conclude on balance that the proposal would cause unacceptable harm to the viability of Ponteland centre and in this respect it would conflict with the aim of Planning Policy Statement 4 to promote sustainable economic growth.”

Charles Cross and his wife Jo, who live in Ryehaugh, are within 15 metres of the back wall of the building.

Mr Cross said: “We are very pleased with the planning inspector’s decision.

“It was almost a year ago when the application was put in so it has been hanging over us for a long time.

“Many of us in the community firmly believe that we don’t need another eating and drinking establishment in Ponteland, there are already in excess of 20 which we feel is more than sufficient for a town of this size.

“It’s important that we do keep a balance between retail and other types of unit and with so many pubs and restaurants nearby, this site is definitely better off being a retail facility.

“Since the New Rendezvous moved to the Smithy there has been a big increase in traffic and so this bar and bistro would have made things worse.

“I was surprised that highways did not raise an objection.

“I also found it peculiar that the impact on the town as a whole wasn’t taken into consideration in the planning process.

“Perhaps the Government’s Big Society concept will address this.”