Pub gets extension to opening hours

BOTH sides in a dispute over a Norfolk pub's licensing application have said they may launch appeals after the owners were given approval to stay open until 3am.

BOTH sides in a dispute over a licensing application for the White Lion at Wheatacre have said they may launch appeals after the owners were given approval to stay open until 3am.

Timothy Worthington-Chapman and his wife Esther Tan, of Loddon, bought the White Lion in March and plan to turn it into a gastropub, with a deli and four bed and breakfast rooms.

At Monday's heated three-hour meeting, which was attended by about 15 homeowners from Wheatacre and the surrounding villages wanting to object, South Norfolk District Council's licensing committee approved the couple's application to be able to open from 6am until 3am.

However they will not be able to play amplified music outside - where they had hoped to hold wedding receptions in a marquee.

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After the meeting Ms Tan, a barrister from Singapore, said she was pleased with the decision, but would consider a challenge to get all their conditions met. She said: "They are not saying we cannot have unamplified music - I can have outside music with a string quartet, because that's not amplified.

"We have to consider carefully whether we want to appeal the decision or not."

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Last month about 100 people from the area attended a public meeting with the landlords to express their concerns. The council received 28 letters objecting to the application and seven supporting it.

At the meeting, Kathy Tyrwhitt-Drake, a former headteacher from Wheatacre, said the late opening hours would ruin the tranquillity. She said: "I moved there specifically because of its unique quality of quiet. The pub would be welcomed by most people but the outside events would impact on our lives."

The committee also heard form Jason Williams, the council's senior environmental health officer. He said any outside music that was louder than 85 decibels could prevent nearby homeowners sleeping. He added: "That's pretty low. A loud toilet flushing is around 85db."

Mike Dobson, who lives in Wheatacre, said he and his fellow parishioners would consider hiring a solicitor to represent them at an appeal. He said: "We are not happy with the timing. It's still going to be open after midnight. Revellers are going to be leaving the pub and children are going to be woken up."

Addressing the committee, Ms Tan said she and her husband did not want to upset neighbours of the business but stressed they did not have any reason to think the pub would cause a nuisance. She said: "We do not intend to be troublesome landlords. We take into account the fears of the residents because it is an unknown."

Colin Gould, chairman of the licensing committee, said it was difficult to make a decision because there was no way of knowing how the pub would affect its neighbours. He said: "We want to get this matter resolved for the benefit of all. We have been asked to make a decision based on the unknown. It's very difficult to get our heads around it."

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