Micropub approved next to nursery despite strong objections

The proposed site for a micropub at Monkseaton Metro Station.
The proposed site for a micropub at Monkseaton Metro Station.

Officials behind proposals for a micropub are raising a glass after their plans were approved.

North Tyneside Council’s planning committee narrowly approved an application to open a micropub inside Monkseaton Metro Station despite strong objection.

Concerns had been raised over the application as it is next to Children’s Choice Nursery at the station on Norham Road, Whitley Bay.

More than 1,500 people signed a petition against the proposals, while there were 32 letters of objection. The application also drew 39 letters of support.

The pub is proposing to sell cask ales and bottles of beer and cider, with an outside seating area on the station platform. Officials also stated there would be no electronic devices or gaming machines.

Objectors were concerned about the impact the pub could have on the adjoining nursery while also felt it was out of keeping with the Monkseaton Conservation Area.

Calls were made for the pub to be move to Whitley Bay town centre or change its opening times to when the nursery was closed.

Peter Thompson, of Children’s Choice Nursery, said: “Planning decisions should help economic growth but also consider economical detriment to other businesses.

“We have had a number of potential parents saying they won’t be bringing their children to the nursery if the pub goes ahead.

“Although 1,500 people signed our petition, only 200 were from the nursery. The vast majority were from local residents.

“Whitley Bay town centre is the main focus for retail, Monkseaton Metro station should not be.”

He added: “Micropubs are fantastic, a really good business concept I just wouldn’t put one next to a nursery or school.

“There are so many empty units in Whitley Bay that would be better suited.”

Whitley Bay ward councillor John O’Shea voiced his concerns over the application.

He said: “I welcome a micropub in Whitley Bay, it’s a great idea but this one is in the wrong place. There are opportunities in the town centre.”

Steve Buckley, one of the applicants, said: “The petition is one objection based on perceived fears.

“We approached the nursery to see if they could address our concerns but they wouldn’t take us up on our offer.”

Speaking on concerns over parking issues, he added: “We don’t expect our customers to drive to us. We certainly don’t want them driving to and from our pub.”

He admitted they had considered other sites in North Tyneside and Newcastle but had missed out or found they were too expensive.

Committee members voted seven to four in favour of the application.

Coun Jim Allan said: “In purely planning terms, I can’t see evidence to say it should not be approved.

“It’s going to be mostly retired people going for a quite pint or two when the nursery is open.”

Coun Frank Lott added: “I don’t think we can justifiably refuse this application.”

Voting against the application, Coun John Hunter said: “In my opinion, this is totally inappropriate to have alcohol next door to a nursery.”

Coun Sandra Graham added: “This site is not in the town centre, it’s a residential area. There is already significant anti-social behaviour in the area.”

Speaking after the planning committee today (Tuesday), applicant Andrew Findlay said: “We are delighted the committee has voted in line with the recommendation.

“We’re pleased they didn’t let the non-planning issues cloud their judgement.

“We’d still like to speak to the nursery about this. We want to allay their fears.”

He added they would now apply for a licence for the pub, and if approved hoped to be open within the next two months.

However, Mr Thompson said they would continue their fight and take their 1,500 name petition to the licensing hearing.

He said: “We’re quite astonished that the planning application system didn’t allow for the voice of the public and the 1,500 objectors.”