Drinkers at a South Tyneside town centre pub can now enjoy an outdoor tipple – despite concerns that wheelchair users will suffer.
Hogarths, in Brigham Place, off Mile End Road, South Shields, has won permission to install pavement seating.
Council planners gave the go-ahead even though bosses at the nearby Brigham and Cowan Social Club officially objected.
They fear disabled members will find it more difficult to get to and from the club due to potential street-side obstructions.
But Blackpool-based Amber Taverns, which owns the pub, has rejected the complaint, insisting its staff will monitor the site.
It is now expected to use a 25sq m section of pavement to create a café-style seating area.
To get the scheme approved by South Tyneside Council, it agreed to amend its original plans so as not to block access to an adjacent fire hydrant point.
A barrier design has also changed to ensure no part of the structure will project onto the pavement.
No one from the club was available for comment, but its secretary told council planners: “This type of outdoor seating area caused major problems to disabled members as one of the very few routes to the club were being impeded.
“There were numerous occasions of people having to go on the road to get past the sitting area being used by Hogarth’s earlier this year.”
“When Hogarth’s was built an outside area was allowed for and they still have this facility on the roof, why do they not use this and leave the highway alone and let pedestrians.”
Amber Taverns operations director Gary Roberts said: “The scope of the project will not impede the pathway for any disabled people.
“The external area will be supervised and have a barrier around it to stop any ingress onto the clear ways.”
South Tyneside Council said the seating area would allow for a minimum width of 2.6m for pedestrians.
In a report, it said: “This would ensure no impediment to the free flow of pedestrian traffic in this location and it is considered that no material harm to highway capacity would occur as a result of the development proposed.
“The Brigham and Cowan Club is situated to the northeast, on the opposite side of road, which also has a public footpath.
“The pavement cafe would be a significant distance away from the club building and would not obstruct any access route to the club itself for pedestrian users.
“Having regard to the location and existing use of the site, it is considered that the works would support the diversification and promotion of the evening and night-time economy within South Shields Town Centre.”
“The street furniture associated with the seating area would be removable; and would be stored off the public highway when not in operation.”