30 November 2018
Green Party campaigners in Nelson ward, which covers part of Norwich’s Golden Triangle, are disappointed that EI Group is pushing ahead with its plans for converting the upper floor of the popular Garden House pub on Pembroke Road. The top floor of the public house currently contains a function room and a kitchen but is set to become a manager's flat.
In September, EI Group submitted a planning application to alter the first floor function room and kitchen to a three bedroom flat with a study and an office. The national pub chain holding 4,500 properties, plans to turn The Garden House into a ‘managed house’ pub with a smaller trade area and no food, under the management of the Craft Union Pub Company, part of EI Group.
Applicant, EI Group, has now withdrawn its planning application, having sought a legal opinion that says returning the first floor to staff accommodation would not amount to a material change of use. Therefore, it would not require planning permission. The legal opinion further asserts that a staff flat could not operate independently were the public house to cease trading and neither could it be let or sold as a self-contained flat as the accommodation is physically and functionally integral to the pub on the ground floor. (1)
Green Party representative, Paul Neale, said:
“Rather than listen to the community, EI Group has got round objections (2) to its plans for making major changes to this popular neighbourhood pub by consulting its lawyers. Removal of the pub function room and kitchen will mean the pub becoming just a drinking establishment and no longer a welcoming place for families. If EI's plans for a drink only pub don't prove financially viable in a residential area, we fear that the company will seek to convert the ground floor to residential accommodation as well and develop the large pub garden for housing.”
1. The legal opinion taken by Enterprise Inns can be found here:
2. Twenty seven objections were submitted to the planning application and one comment in support.