A LANDLADY who feared £40,000 worth of decking outside her pub would need to be ripped up says a “year-long cloud has been lifted” after being told it can stay.
Leyanne Henson said the decking, which was fitted at the Alum Ale House in July last year, had an immediate impact and boosted the pub’s trade by 60 per cent.
But the work was carried out without planning permission, and when a retrospective application was submitted to the council’s planning committee it was rejected – in part, because the extension covered a lower bay window.
Now a government planning inspector has over-ruled that judgment and the decking, installed by Marston’s brewery, can stay at the Grade Two listed building, in Ferry Street, South Shields.
The decision has come as a huge relief to Alum licensee Leyanne, 39.
She said: “We’ve just had a great summer and I’d say the decking, resulted in adding 60 per cent to trade.
“It also created employment. We’d normally have two behind the bar on summer days and this year we had five.
“The bay window itself is not in use, it’s bricked up. I can understand that the council has to follow procedures and the brewery did make an error in not applying for planning permission in the first place.
“It was a misunderstanding because it was assumed that planning permission was already in place because of previous decking there.
“For my part, this has been a cloud over our heads for a year and now it has been lifted. It’s dragged on for so long and I thought the decision was never going to come. I’m just so relieved because the customers say the decking has improved the pub 100 per cent.”
A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “The inspector’s report has just been received by the council and the inspector acknowledged that the applicant had deleted the proposed gazebo, which removed one of the council’s main objections to the scheme.
“The inspector found that the decking was acceptable in the context of the various changes that have been made in the surrounding area, and granted planning permission for that work.”
There was more good news for the Alum House staff recently, when it was named Marston’s Cask Ale Pub of the Year, in recognition of “outstanding cellar management and cask ale quality”.