Duo will fight council ruling

A couple who recently opened a small pub in Morpeth are not giving up after their application was turned down.

A bid was submitted by Paul and Andrea Johnson to Northumberland County Council to change the use of the Toll House from a retail unit to a pub (called The Office).

But members of the north area planning committee refused the plans at a meeting last week after hearing from a neighbouring resident, who is concerned about the impact they would have on her health.

The Johnsons will appeal the decision and the establishment will remain open while this process is ongoing. They have also set up an e-petition.

The pub began to operate before the application was determined by the committee and at the meeting, Edith Sanderson told members that it was causing her numerous problems.

She said: “The effect this is having on my life is no less than catastrophic. It affects my work life, my home life and my health.

“When I moved into my apartment, I knew it would be the noisiest place I would live, but that noise was not in my bedroom. My bedroom and bathroom walls are shared with the public house.

“Since this public house opened, I have been awake every single night and one night I had a male urinating on my windowsill while I was in my bed three feet away.”

Morpeth Town Council also objected. Coun Bob Robertson said it would result in ‘the loss of residential amenity’.

He also said that the venue was not accessible for the disabled and had no disabled toilet, with just one facility for all sexes to use.

Mrs Johnson said the venue was operating with a temporary events notice to start with and now has a full premises licence. She said toilets at the venue were wide enough for disabled users.

“At the end of the day, we want to promote local produce, employ people and showcase the pub as a meeting place,” she added.

“We haven’t got a music or entertainments licence, we just want to create a quiet area for people to have a few drinks and be on their way.”

Councillors were split in their thoughts on the application, however, Coun Heather Cairns moved refusal on the grounds that it would have a significant impact on the amenity of neighbours and this was backed by the majority of the committee.

After the meeting, Mr Johnson said: “We’ve put a lot of time and effort into converting these premises into a small pub and we will definitely be appealing the decision.

“We always promote sensible drinking.”