Neighbours and Falkirk hotel clash over bid for permanent beer garden
Neighbours of a Falkirk town centre bar say they may be forced to move if a new beer garden built without planning permission is allowed to remain in place.
However, the owner of the Orchard Hotel says that closing the outdoor space – which has been transformed from a car park into a beer garden – will have a ‘devastating impact’ on his business.
Craig Lumsden, who lives in Orchard Street, says that the garden has led to “rowdy behaviour and foul language” which he and other neighbours can hear from their gardens.
He said: “There are a number of children living in or visiting the surrounding households and this kind of behaviour is unacceptable in a residential street.
“When people have a drink in them they do become rowdy and they get louder without meaning to.”
Businesses across Falkirk were given emergency permission to open up outdoor spaces to get them through the worst of the coronvirus restrictions.
The hotel’s owner, Stuart Crawford, believed that meant he could make changes without the need for planning permission.
In a statement to planning officers, he said: “As a direct response to the Covid -19 pandemic and associated restrictions imposed on the hospitality
trade, we sought to increase the outside area to better cater for those who wished to have an al fresco dinner/drinks.
“Given the level of investment and the ongoing negative fallout from the pandemic, we are now seeking the permanent use of the beer garden.
“Short term temporary use would have no significant benefit to the business and does not justify the expense to date.”
The popular pub and restaurant faces out onto a busy road in Falkirk town centre, but behind it – beside the car park – is a residential area.
And Mr Lumsden believes the change was always intended to be permanent as the area was not used for several months while extensive work was carried out.
He said: “What people don’t understand is that the Orchard Hotel is on Kerse Lane – it is not on Orchard Street.
“By opening the beer garden, it is bringing the noise right next to the houses.
“We have lived here for30 years – I renovated this house, which was almost derelict, and we didn’t intend to move again.
“But for the past ten years, the problems have just been getting worse and if the beer garden is allowed to stay it will be very difficult for us.
They also complained about a fire pit that was causing excessive smoke – which the hotel had to stop using after a visit from the environmental health department.
Mr Crawford said: “As the proprietary owner of The Orchard Hotel I have always considered the effect of the business on the local community in the vicinity very seriously.
“The car park and beer garden area is now a great more aesthetically pleasing and any issues with sound have been dampened.”
The planning application adds that a “robust management regime is in place to ensure the smooth operation of the business”
It states: “We believe the beer garden operates without any significant impact on adjacent or nearby houses” and adds that “no complaints have been received from residents.”