Beer garden at North Shields Fish Quay to be removed after proposal to make it permanent gets rejected
Contentious plans for a 100-seat outdoor area serving customers of the Quay Taphouse, River Cafe, and Dodgins Yard were thrown out on Tuesday morning.
The waterfront beer garden has been open on a temporary basis since Covid restrictions were lifted in April to allow the three businesses to start trading again and operator 55 Quay Limited was keen to keep it in place.
But the prospect of it being a permanent addition to the Fish Quay sparked concerns that it would be a serious noise nuisance for local residents.
Northumbria Police had also opposed the plans after warning that revellers had been spotted jumping into the Tyne from the beer garden’s location, though the venues have denied that they were their patrons, and that there would be a danger posed by staff and customers having to cross the busy Bell Street to go between the three businesses and their terrace.
At a North Tyneside Council planning committee hearing on Tuesday morning, proposals to permanently convert the former car parking area into outdoor seating were rejected by a narrow margin of six votes to five.
Keith Powell, one of 26 objectors to the plans, told councillors that the beer garden was no more than a “Greedy land grab” designed to increase the capacity of the three venues, with “scant regard” to safety.
The resident of the nearby Waterfront Apartments added that noise caused by drinkers had forced him to close windows and doors since the beer garden opened, something which council environmental health chiefs said was an “unreasonable” infringement on locals’ lives.
Paul Sample, director of 55 Quay Limited, insisted that the outdoor seating would be for “predominantly food-led” service rather than just being a bar and that the three Fish Quay businesses had reverted to attracting a more mature clientele than when lockdown had first lifted.
Mr Sample claimed that the outdoor seating had been “very successful” and that the majority of locals supported it, with 58 letters of support submitted, while also complaining that the council had based its noise concerns on readings taken on a Bank Holiday weekend in May and during Euro 2020.
He added that the extra capacity was essential to the hospitality venues’ recovery after the devastating impact of the pandemic, saying: “It is not a greedy money grab as has been suggested. It is for survival.”
Labour councillor Frank Lott was among those convinced of the plans’ merits, saying that the claims that it would cause a disturbance for neighbours “don’t chime with what I see with my own eyes”.
Riverside ward colleague Wendy Lott added that refusing planning permission could hamper future development on the Fish Quay and that any noise issues would not be worse than those already deemed acceptable from outdoor seating in Tynemouth’s Front Street.
But a slim majority of the committee sided with council planning officers’ view that the scheme would cause an “unacceptable increase in noise and disturbance”.
Whitley Bay representative John O’Shea said: “I think everyone in this room wants to see further development on the Quayside. It is an up and coming area, but I am a bit concerned about this particular application and how this affects residential amenity for local residents there.
“I think it will be unduly negative for them, the noise issues are ongoing to be fairly significant.”
Coun Margaret Hall added that a better solution would be for the pavement outside the three venues to be widened so that seating could be placed there, rather than forcing people to cross a busy road to get to it.
A council spokesperson later confirmed that the authority would “work with the operator to secure the cessation of the use of the area”, though no timescale has been set for its removal.