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Public Inquiry Appeal success in Lewisham

The site is a Grade II listed building and the proposal sought to retain the pub at ground floor and basement level. The application was refused at committee on the grounds that the proposal would cause the current late night operations of the pub, which continues until 3am at weekends, to cease, with the pub having to shut at 11pm. There was one reason for refusal which set out that by virtue of the listed status of the building, the level of noise insulation required to protect the residential amenity of the proposed flats would not be possible without imposing unreasonable restrictions on the current pub operations, which it considered was of a unique and intrinsic character that appealed to a unique clientele.

The appeal procedure secured was a public inquiry and ahead of the inquiry taking place Boyer were involved in further work that took place on noise and heritage matters. This work involved raising the floor level and increasing the noise insulation at first floor level, which would impact on the heritage significance of the building, but when combined with the limit on live music and noise volume after 11pm, would allow the pub to stay open until 3am. Working with the Council’s heritage officer and noise consultant this approach was considered acceptable, with the Council concluding that the additional noise insulation works would result in less than substantial harm and that this harm would be outweighed by the public and heritage benefits of the scheme, which would see the upper floors returned closer to their original layout, improvements made to the pub and exterior of the building and the provision of four new high quality homes, returning the upper floors back to their original use.

A Statement of Common Ground was agreed with the Council confirming this approach was acceptable on heritage and noise grounds and provided an acceptable balance between protecting the heritage significance of the building and allowing the pub to remain open until 3am, albeit with a different late night offer, but which would ensure the two uses would be compatible. The Council maintained their overall objection however, on the grounds that the proposal still required changes to the late night operations of the pub.

In addition to agreeing a Statement of Common Ground, Boyer submitted Proofs of Evidence that balanced the heritage impacts against the noise impacts and addressed Agent of Change principles and provided the planning balance.

At the Inquiry during cross examination Boyer put forward compelling arguments to demonstrate that the residential conversion would not harm the viability of the public house, nor hamper the ability of the pub to operate, whilst defending the proposals against the Agent of Change principle. Despite lots of local opposition to the changes to the late night offering, the appeal was allowed.

The Inspector concluded that satisfactory living conditions would be provided for future occupiers of the proposed development with regard to noise and disturbance and that the pub would still be viable and contribute to the vitality and viability of the surrounding area including the late night economy of New Cross. The Inspector also concluded that the character of the pub would be altered by the proposals, but it would not be lost and therefore, the restrictions imposed by the proposed development, would not be unreasonable or place an undue burden on the pub operation, in line with Agent of Change principles.

Boyer represented Wellington Pub Company at the public inquiry alongside Kings Chambers, CMS Cameron McKenna, KP Acoustics, Turley and Criterion Asset Management.

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