Belfast Telegraph

Shop hits out at Wetherspoon's Belfast beer garden plans

By John Mulgrew

A newsagent's which has been in business for almost 40 years is objecting to plans by pub chain neighbour JD Wetherspoon to build a massive beer garden at its flagship Belfast city centre bar.

Plans have now been submitted for a large beer garden at the back of The Bridge House bar on Bedford Street.

The 2,000 sq ft beer garden will be accessed from the bar itself, alongside a driveway to the left of the front of the premises in the city centre.

But now a letter has been sent from a Belfast architecture firm, raising objections to the plans on behalf of a neighbouring business.

Joan Barbour-McMullan and husband Eric have owned the Tom Browne newsagent shop, based on the Dublin Road, since 1979.

She says she is "very upset" with Wetherspoon's plans to add a beer garden at a driveway between both businesses.

The letter from Ostick and Williams raises a number of planning concerns over the development, on behalf of 1 Dublin Road.

It objects to a range of issues over Wetherspoon's plans for the outside beer garden. It says that the land on which it's proposing to open the outside drinking area, is "not a driveway", as outlined in the application.

The firm says that for the first 20 metres from Bedford Street it is in use as a service access for 1 Dublin Road.

And it adds the area is also used for refuse, rubbish and an "emergency pedestrian exit from the adjoining properties".

It also warns that the area was not designed to deal with heavy loads or footfall, and could lead to the "collapse" of a culvert - a structure that allows water to flow under a road.

Ostick and Williams also says the use of the area as a proposed beer garden would "interfere" with its use for "emergency purposes".

And it claims access rights to the area are "limited to pedestrian access for emergency purposes".

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin said getting a beer garden into the city centre was "important" but said he was not aware of the details of the planning objection.

The UK bar chain, which is run by Northern Ireland-raised Tim Martin, is also expanding its reach elsewhere in Belfast.

Wetherspoon's has been planning to create around 100 jobs with two new pubs for Belfast, including one at the former Methodist church on University Road and another in Royal Avenue.

And JD Wetherspoon has now received planning permission for its other proposed new pub at the former JJB Sports on Royal Avenue.

Belfast Telegraph