Falkirk Council: Orchard Hotel beer garden appeal thrown out after split decision

A town centre hotel has lost its appeal to keep a beer garden that was built during Covid restrictions but has hardly been used since then.
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The owners of the Orchard Hotel, which sits on the corner of Kerse Lane and Orchard Street, built the beer garden in its car park without any planning permission and a retrospective application was refused.

In an appeal to Falkirk Council’s planning review committee, the business said it was aiming to create a modern and “edgy” design that took particular inspiration from Shoreditch – “an area of London that has become synonymous with regeneration and cutting-edge design”.

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The applicant did not attend the review on Tuesday but said in a written statement the proposal would “help safeguard the future viability of a local longstanding business and counterbalance the devastating impact of the pandemic on the hospitality industry and the Orchard Hotel in particular”.

An appeal against refusal for a beer garden at the Orchard Hotel in Falkirk has been thrown out. Pic: Michael GillenAn appeal against refusal for a beer garden at the Orchard Hotel in Falkirk has been thrown out. Pic: Michael Gillen
An appeal against refusal for a beer garden at the Orchard Hotel in Falkirk has been thrown out. Pic: Michael Gillen

It added that staff would regularly inspect the beer garden and ensure noise from customers was minimised.

The frontage of the Orchard bar and hotel overlooks a busy town centre street which is in the town centre conservation area.

However, the rear of the building, with the beer garden, is in a residential area.

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The garden operated for a short time in 2021 but complaints were received from neighbours at that time.

The hotel currently has restrictions on its licence that means the area to the rear can be used by smokers, but not after 10 pm.

The panel heard from two neighbours who spoke about the impact from the beer garden when it has been open.

One neighbour, Mr Lumsden, who has lived in the street for 33 years, said: “If this gets the go-ahead it’s going to make my life unbearable. If it gets passed we will have to move.”

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Both members of the public said that in the short time the beer garden had operated they had experienced noise and anti-social behaviour from patrons using it.

Another long-term resident, Mr Muir, said in his statement: “There have been 176 noise complaints to Falkirk Council about The Orchard Hotel since 2007.

“We do not want to hear excessive noise in our street or home, and we don’t want to have to spend our time making complaints to Falkirk Council or the police, as it is a stressful way to live.”

Addressing the councillors, he added: “For those who say, ‘you moved next to a hotel’ – I did move next to a hotel but I didn’t move next to a beer garden,” he said.

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The four members of the panel were split, with Provost Robert Bissett and Baillie James Kerr in favour of the appeal.

However, Councillor Iain Sinclair and Councillor Alf Kelly voted to uphold the original decision to refuse planning permission.

Mr Sinclair said he was concerned that the beer garden did not suit the overall character of the conservation area and he was also concerned about the noise.

As convener of the meeting, Mr Kelly had the casting vote and he supported the original decision.

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