Outdoor seating plan 'will help secure our future', Burnham Market pub bosses say
Plans for a new outdoor dining area at a popular West Norfolk pub and hotel have been backed by councillors.
The owners of the Hoste Arms in Burnham Market said the plan to provide outside seating for around 60 customers would help to secure its future following the Covid crisis.
And their application for a change of use of six current parking spaces to accommodate the development was approved, with only one abstention, at a West Norfolk Council planning meeting on Monday.
Ian Reilly, planning agent for the venue's owners, the City Pub Group, said the scheme would ensure the venue's "future viability" and potentially create new employment opportunities.
He told the meeting: "What we’re trying to achieve is a simple but effective and well designed outcome that would allow the Hoste to build flexibility into their dining arrangements."
He added: "We think the car parking spaces that would be lost are not the most safe in terms of their proximity to the entrance."
But concerns were raised about the potential impact of the scheme on parking capacity both on the site and elsewhere.
Committee member Bob Lawton said the village was "notorious" for people parking inappropriately on roads.
He said: "If they’re taking parking for the sake of a little sitting area, I’m against it."
But chairman Vivienne Spikings said there was a "under-utilised, massive car park" in the village for visitors to use.
Jo Rust also questioned how the applicant would accommodate 61 seats for customers in the space allocated for the development.
She said: "That looks like it could be an accident waiting to happen. I’m concerned about the number of seats."
However, vice-chairman Geoff Hipperson said a similar project had been successfully carried out at the King's Arms in Shouldham, which is part of his ward.
And Sandra Squire said: "We really need to support a local business.
"With the best will in the world, even after restrictions, many people will not be comfortable drinking in a pub if it’s busy. They will want to sit outside for their own safety."
Former council leader Brian Long questioned whether the development could not have proceeded anyway under emergency coronavirus regulations.
But officials said the application would give consent for the dining area to remain in place for the long term.