A brewery boss who made changes to a Leyland pub without planning permission apologised last week – but admitted he had done it to get the trade.
Alan Burdett, managing director at Ribble Brewery, spoke at a planning meeting about the former Roebuck pub last week, which is now called the Withy Arms.
The brewery had to submit a retrospective application to South Ribble Council after carrying out work, such as painting the pub – which is in a conservation area but is not a listed building – creating a new seating area outside, and introducing a kitchen flue, without getting prior consent.
Mr Burdett said: “I feel I must address why we are here with a retrospective application.
“I apologise to anyone who has been affronted by this, and I can only offer the following explanation, or excuse if you prefer.
“Rightly or wrongly, well, wrongly, we needed to be up and running for the peak Christmas period, and we opened on December 12.”
“It was not our intention to be seen to be ignoring planning guidance,” Mr Burdett added.
Planning officers had recommended to approve the application as the changes ‘work well with the existing building and its immediate surroundings’, and said conditions be attached to address concerns from residents about noise disturbance.
These include a 12-month trial period of the outside seating area to determine whether the new feature had an adverse effect on neighbouring residents, and to restrict the use of the outside area to 10pm.
The council had received two letters of objection and one letter in favour of the proposals.
People objecting said the changes were out of keeping with the area – which council planning officers refuted after blue neon lights were removed – and residents from Church Road complained revellers could see into their kitchens from the outdoor area.
The council said this was not considered to be of sufficient issue to warrant planning refusal.
Coun Phil Hamman, who represents the Leyland St Mary’s ward, said: “I support this but by no way do I condone that this is a retrospective application.
“I was very annoyed when I saw this on the planning lists.
“But when I look at what we had before, and what we have now; the Roebuck was previously owned by a large brewery chain and it had a bad reputation locally.
“The landlords changed at regular intervals, and local residents would avoid that area in the evenings.
“What we have now is a peaceful area where people can enjoy a meal, and people can walk past without feeling intimidated.
“Pubs are closing all over the country, and I’m pleased this one has been regenerated.”
Coun Matthew Tomlinson, Leyland Central’s county councillor, added: “My understanding is that retrospective applications cannot be condoned or condemned for being retrospective, so I see very little reason to refuse this.
“It is perfectly in keeping with the area, and it is an improvement on what was there before.
“I think it is a massive boost for Leyland town centre.”
Sitting on the planning committee, Coun Cameron Crook said: “The great advantage of retrospective applications is that you know what you’re going to get.”
The vote was unanimous to allow the permission, with the suggested conditions.