The former Natwest building, in Southwell
The former Natwest building, in Southwell

Pubs in Southwell have united against proposals by an independent brewery to turn a former bank into a pub and restaurant.

Representatives from The Admiral Rodney, The Bramley Apple, The Crown, The Hearty Goodfellow, The Reindeer, The Saracen’s Head and The Wheatsheaf have opposed an application by Blue Monkey Brewery to change the use of the former Natwest on Church Street.

In a joint statement they said: “We strongly believe there is already adequate provision of licensed premises throughout the town, if not a few too many already.

“We feel another would put some under extra pressure, in an industry that is, generally, still in decline.

“We all, between us, already offer an extensive range of local real ales and continental beers, along with our food offerings and social events and feel an additional premises would only disperse our existing customers, rather than attract new ones to the town.

“In addition, we believe there would be the potential for increased noise and disturbances, due to the volumes of people in the town centre.

“As an experienced group of licensees, we keep in regular contact, operate a tight Pubwatch system throughout our premises and strive to maintain a great social culture in our town.”

Mr Trevor Vickers, owner of Blue Monkey Brewery, said the application was to test the water ahead of the potential sale of the building.

He said “Our pubs are all very nice and proper. We don’t sell cheap lager, we don’t have television screens and we don’t have pool tables or dart boards.”

Southwell Town Council planning committee has objected to the application.

Owner attracted by ideal location

The owner of an independent brewery has explained his decision to apply for permission to change the use of a former bank into a pub and restaurant.

Blue Monkey Brewery owner Mr Trevor Vickers wants to convert the former Natwest on Church Street.

The brewery has four pubs in the East Midlands, including The Waggon and Horses in Bleasby and The Organ Grinder in Newark.

Mr Vickers said he was a customer at Natwest in Southwell and decided to make an application when he learnt of its closure.

“When I heard it was closing I thought what a fabulous building to have a restaurant in and it seemed to me to be an ideal location,” he said.

“I made a few enquiries but couldn’t really find out much and no one knew who was selling it.

“They haven’t decided when it is going to be sold and it is probably going to an auction in December.

“My application was purely to test the water because if it is going to auction I didn’t want to buy a property that stood no chance at all of becoming a pub.”

If the application is approved, the banking hall would be transformed into a bar and the large office at the rear would become a restaurant.

Another room at the back of the building would be the kitchen.

'Other pubs in Southwell won't be very happy'

The plans have been opposed by the town council, people living nearby and by seven other publicans who say there are already enough licensed premises in the town.

Mr Vickers said: “The other pubs in Southwell won’t be very happy — I probably wouldn’t be if it was the other way round.”

He said he wanted to create a grand venue that would be the kind of place people would go for a special occasion.

“Our pubs are all very nice and proper pubs,” he said.

“It may not be affordable for us, but if we did get it we would make a contribution to Southwell, with it being close to the minster.

“It would be an upmarket restaurant and during the day it would provide refreshments for people visiting the minster.

“We are good honest pub owners and we don’t have trouble in our pubs.

“We don’t sell cheap lager and our opening hours are usually slightly shorter than other pubs around there.

“We, as individuals, don’t want to go round upsetting people and if it’s going to upset somebody we won’t do it, rather than steamrolling through.”

Asked about the concerns of people living nearby, he said: “We try to be good neighbours and we want to be.”

Mr Vickers said he would be speaking to the neighbours about the application as soon as possible.

Neighbours had raised concerns that the access road at the side of the bank would be too narrow for delivery vehicles.

Mr Vickers said: “The road is perfectly wide enough for all the vehicles that supply us to go up and turn around.

“Our delivery vehicles are only [Ford] Transit van size anyway, or a little bit bigger than that.

“There’s a public carpark right next door for hundreds of cars.”

Concern raised at bank conversion

A resident has raised concerns about proposals to turn a former bank under his home into a pub and restaurant.

Mr Mark Nelson lives above the former Natwest bank on Church Street, Southwell, with his wife and 11-year-old daughter.

Blue Monkey Brewery has submitted plans to Newark and Sherwood District Council to convert the building.

Members of Southwell Town Council’s planning committee unanimously agreed to object to the application.

Mr Nelson, who has lived at the property since 2008, told the meeting: “The biggest concern I have is for the privacy of my daughter and my wife and that is going to come from the social aspect of a pub being beneath our house and the very obvious noise pollution it will cause for us.

“While the bank has been in operation we have worked in harmony with them and whenever we had issues on either side we have been able to resolve them.”

Mr Nelson said he expected the pub to generate a lot of noise pollution.

He said the house was built in 1785 with thin walls and upstairs they could hear much of the activity happening downstairs.

“To get the relevant acoustic treatment you are going to lose a lot of the Grade II listed architecture on the façade,” he said.

“I haven’t seen anything in the plans about how that is going to be achieved.

“I expect the pub to be running from 10am to around 1am, by the time they have cleaned up, and given we are immediately above them I cannot see any way that activity can be done without a disturbance to me and my neighbours.”

'Completely against what open space is all about'

Mr Nelson said he expected odours from the kitchen would affect his home and would mean he might not be able to open his windows.

He said the cashpoint at the bank had attracted anti-social behaviour, including fights, drinking, and broken glass and bottles being left behind, which he had to clear away.

He feared that would increase if a pub was allowed to open, which he described as devastating for his family.

He said: “I have a vision of the garden at the front being used as a beer garden and of that being full of 50 to 60 people on a Saturday afternoon, making loud noise and going completely against what that open space is all about.

“For me, that should be the sole reason this plan is turned down.”

Another resident living nearby told the meeting she was concerned about the impact of noise from customers, deliveries and people using the Church Street carpark late at night.

Planning committee member Mr Peter Harris said: “Normally I would support new pubs in terms of bringing historic buildings back into life.

“There have been some very good examples and I supported one that won a national award for conversion of a similar pub.

“This is a different application in that this is a very sensitive building, in my view.”

He said he was concerned about how vehicles would access the building and the back garden, which is bordered by many homes, being turned into a beer garden.