40- Oxford Castle New Road Oxford OX1 1AY
23 November 2018
Provision of outdoor seating arrangement on the pavement.
This proposal is for the installation of an external seating area on the pavement immediately in front of the present entrance to the Swan and Castle on the west side of Castle Street, facing the east-facing exterior of the Westgate building, The seating area would be 5 m. wide measured from the exterior of the public house leaving sufficient width of the pavement for normal use at this point.
The proposal has its attractions as it would provide natural surveillance in this street otherwise broadly lacking active frontages. However, the proposal raises issues of noise, and appearance of the area which would function as an integral part of the pub’s facilities. A noise assessment provided shows that Wetherspoons, the landlords, have experience of managing similar external seating areas in other locations around the country. The applicant suggests that the area will be “kept clean and treated as part of the restaurant with empty glasses and plates collected and spillages cleared up.” Nothing less would be acceptable.
In planning terms, the proposal is probably acceptable provided the furniture is of good quality which will, as the applicant suggests, “withstand the environment that it will be subject to”, and the appearance of the area is kept clean.
However, OCS suggest that the management of this new element of the facility should be the subject of meetings between the residents of the domestic properties above the Swan and Castle. At such a meeting we would expect that the terms of the premises licence should be carefully addressed with enforceable conditions being worked out covering the hours during which the new facility would be allowed to function, and a management plan formulated to satisfy the residents that there will be a viable and effective complaints procedure put in place for the management of noise. These are issues for the City Council to address as the licensing authority.