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Cheltenham pub cheers as it gets to keep beer garden pergolas put up during Covid-19 pandemic

Gloucestershire Live logo Gloucestershire Live 21/01/2023 Carmelo Garcia

A Gloucestershire pub can keep the wooden pergolas it was allowed to install in its beer garden during the coronavirus pandemic for a further two years. The Swan’s owner Edward Anderson has been granted permission by Cheltenham Borough Council to retain the structures which are in the pub’s enclosed rear courtyard.

The High Street pub was allowed to install the temporary structures without planning permission while enforcement was relaxed to address social distancing concerns during the Covid 19 pandemic. These restrictions have since ended and the temporary structures needed planning permission.

Officers said the site is sensitive in heritage terms and the temporary structures affect the rear of the 19th century historic coaching inn which is a grade II listed building. The structures cover an area of the Cheltenham inn that would have been the access for carriages and had recommended rejecting the scheme.

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Consultants working on behalf of Mr Anderson said the plans are to retain the current temporary structures for a further two years while the business devises an “appropriate, long-term, sustainable solution” to provide outdoor space for the premises.

Mr Anderson called on the planning committee yesterday (January 19) to approve the proposals. He has run the Swan since 2012 and really enjoys being a part of the Cheltenham community. He said the business directly employs 14 people from the area and the money spent in the pub stays in the town.

He explained how the pandemic had hit his business really hard and pubs are still feeling the consequences of it with some customers who are only comfortable sitting outside. He said: “In 20 years of running The Vine, The Railway and the Swan, I’ve never had any business debts. I now have a six-figure debt because of the pandemic. And repaying that puts an existential threat on the business.

“The temporary structures have been a lifeline for us enabling us to trade and serve the community in exceptionally difficult circumstances over the past few years. They continue to play an invaluable role providing shelter for 78 covers.

“Without them we would miss out on trade, jeopardising our business. Only customers who have chosen to be sheltered by them will ever see them.”

He said the structures are temporary and are asking the council for time to submit a long term plan. Councillor David Willingham (LD, St Peters), the council’s evening and night time economy champion, spoke in favour of the plans. "It’s a temporary structure and said it would not affect the building’s facade," he said.

He said the council would be “sending out the wrong message” if it decided to reject the plans. “You need to ask yourself if the message you send out is that Cheltenham is open for business and will support the small and medium independent businesses in the night time economy sector.

“On balance, I think you need to look at the other option and permit this.” The committee went against the officers recommendation to reject the proposals and voted unanimously to grant planning permission.



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