Micropub plan for vacant unit
A micropub could be opened in part of the vacant commercial unit in St Peter’s Abbotsbury Court.
A vets practice is already earmarked to set up in half of the unit, which has been empty since the former One Stop store closed there two years ago.
The new application for the remaining part of the unit has been submitted by the Birmingham-based Ale Hub family business, which already has two pubs, in Solihull’s Shirley and Dickens Heath.
Proposed opening hours are from noon until 11pm each day, including weekends and bank holidays.
The prospect of a pub business moving in has prompted both support and opposition.
The personal view of St Peter’s parish councillor Alan Tidy was that he would like to see the unit occupied rather than remain empty for years.
His fellow parish councillor, Roger Knight, responding as a resident of St Peter’s, was concerned it could lead to anti-social behaviour.
Ale Hub director Connor McDiarmid said the business, which was aimed at real ale enthusiasts, was looking to expand further afield and St Peter’s had impressed him and his fellow directors.
The small size of the premises had also attracted them.
Mr McDiarmid said: “We don’t really want a massive unit – you lose that atmosphere and community feeling. It can be a bit cavernous.”
He added: “We don’t offer food or football. We don’t have TVs. We’re just more about a community feel.”
He explained that he anticipated the micropub would have up to 60 customers at a time but would not provide outdoor service, adding: “We’re not really wanting to cram people in like sardines. It’s not really our business model.”
Covid had impacted on the business, forcing the Dickens Heath pub to close temporarily from November after only opening last September.
The Shirley premises opened its doors for the first time with lifting of restrictions in late May.
Mr Tidy said: “I suspect there may be some residents who oppose this but it is worth remembering that the land covering the Baptist church, MUGA and Abbotsbury Court shops was originally earmarked for a school, community centre and a pub, none of which, of course, appeared.
“Of course there are already two public houses – Ketch [Toby Carvery] and Timberdine – in the parish at the western end.
“However, there is nothing at the eastern end. From what I can deduce the micropub proposed does not have a large seating capacity.
“It looks to be aiming at a more specific slice of the market and is in line with current trends for such smaller establishments, both for beer drinking and wine drinking clientele.
“My personal view is that there is going to be a lot of empty retail spaces post-pandemic and I would rather see this unit occupied than left empty for months or years and become susceptible to vandalism.”
He added: “I think we should be doing everything we can to support business growth and employment opportunities and a business such as this will only survive if there is a local market for it.
“The Ketch and the Timberdine have survived decades of use in positive co-existence with close-by residential properties and I see no reason why this one should be any different.”
Mr Knight, who chairs St Peter’s Village Hall Association, said: “Whilst the creation of a mini pub, in itself, is an attractive idea, the location is not appropriate.
“It would be situated at the centre of a residential area, adjacent to domestic dwellings and the community village hall, which is home to a pre-school, youngsters dance school and many other community activities.”
He described the area surrounding the proposed micropub as “relatively quiet” and feared neighbouring domestic properties would experience disturbance.
He added: “This immediate area has been and is, an area of concern with regard to the behaviour of youth groups.
“A venue such as described on the application could attract additional numbers and cause the behavioural problems to escalate.”
He questioned why the village hall association was not consulted over the application.
A decision on the planning application is expected from Worcester City Council by the end of June.
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