Building will finally have new use after agreement reached

A new bar in Ponteland is set to open three years after it received planning permission.

But concerns have been raised by a resident about the work that has been carried out at the front of the building on Bell Villas.

Following the closure of the former Wine Rack off-licence that closed in December 2009, an initial planning application was submitted by Jonathan Stokes for a two-storey bar and restaurant.

A Northumberland County Council planning committee refused it in February 2011 on the grounds that it would be an unacceptable loss of retail space and in July of that year, planning inspector Ian Jenkins agreed with its assessment.

Another bid was put forward and although the committee turned it down in January 2012, inspector David Cullingford allowed an appeal later in the year.

The two applications generated almost 30 letters of objection and two petitions signed by 170 people. They said a lack of parking spaces would make existing problems even worse and concerns about noise and odours were also expressed.

Another proposal was lodged earlier this year, but it was withdrawn after talks between the developers and county council planning officers.

Application agent Simon McIlwraith said: “There were a couple of aspects to the design that the officers were not fully happy with, but we managed to reach a compromise.

“A new planning application was put forward. However, after further talks, we were advised that the best way to proceed was withdrawing the bid and instead submitting an application to discharge the conditions for the scheme approved in 2012.”

The bar will be called You Only Live Once and in recent days, decking, a wall and a disabled ramp has gone up at the front of the building as the opening is taking place this week.

One of the residents who opposed the plans, Jennifer Hardy, has written to the county council, saying: ‘Conditions 14 and 15 laid down by the planning inspector say that landscaping, seeding and turfing must be approved in writing by the planning authority before development starts and I would like to know if this work has been carried out with your agreement?’

A Northumberland County Council spokesman said: “The applicant has submitted information to discharge the conditions attached to the planning approval, which was granted on appeal, and this is currently being considered.

“It also intends to submit an application to vary the landscaping condition attached to the appeal decision.”