Shelter secures Gissing pub’s survival

A long-running saga over a south Norfolk pub's smoking shelter was resolved after proposals were approved that aim to secure the future of an historic inn.

Councillors ruled that the preservation of a 'vital community asset' outweighed concerns about the noise impact of a new structure outside the Crown at Gissing.

The approval of a timber-framed smoking shelter comes more than two years after South Norfolk councillors rejected proposals by the owner to keep a marquee at the 18th century inn, which had been put up without planning consent.

Landlord Kevin Greenacre, who has permission to keep the makeshift shelter at the drinking establishment, in Lower Street, until January 15, was granted plans for a new building on Tuesday, despite objections from the district council's planning officers that the scheme posed an 'unacceptable' impact on the listed pub and the village's conservation area.

Councillors gave the go-ahead on condition that the applicant improves the design of the replacement shelter. Supporters say that the pub would struggle to survive without a smoking shelter, but objectors say that a permanent structure will continue to cause noise problems for neighbours.

Alan Cole, a resident of the next door Crown Cottage, said: 'We have a noise problem. I recorded 640 hours of disturbance in one year and a new structure will not alter that at all. We just want it removed.'

But David Timpson, agent for the Crown Inn, said it would be impossible to move the shelter to the side of the pub and environmental health officers decided not to take action last January after monitoring noise levels.

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Members voted in favour of the shelter as long as the applicant designs a more 'cartshed-style' structure with a pantiled roof.

Local member Keith Weeks said the district council had received national praise for the way it was helping struggling pubs and it would be 'absolutely catastrophic' if the inn was to close because a smoking shelter was not allowed.

Jim Philip, chairman of Gissing Parish Council, said that the smoking shelter was necessary for the short to medium-term survival of the pub as a 'commercial viability and socially valuable amenity.'

Bev Spratt added: 'We want to keep businesses in this community and not lose them. It is in the heart of Gissing and is absolutely essential.'