Tempers flared as changes to a Lark Lane pub layout were agreed by Liverpool Council.
The team behind the Green Man pub, based in the famous south Liverpool street, were seeking permission to amend the layout of the venue and create an outdoor space, with an outdoor kitchen area already removed.
The plans, submitted by businessman Robert Gutmann, were contested at a meeting of Liverpool Council’s licensing and gambling sub-committee after concerns were raised about a potential increase in crime and disorder.
As part of Mr Gutmann’s plans, the business has changed the external layout with the removal of its former kitchen space and the installation of five tables to provide seating for 20 patrons. A planning application for the work was submitted in December but has yet to be determined.
Despite this, Mr Gutmann confirmed the space had been used “on and off” since mid-March. Cllr Tom Crone, whose St Michaels ward includes Lark Lane, offered his objections to the committee citing noise issues.
Carl Bruder, the agent speaking on behalf of Mr Gutmann, said previously the pub had not used its kitchen and had opted to do away with it owing to financial pressures emanating from covid-19 on the hospitality industry. He confirmed the outdoor space would close at 11pm and no external speakers would be used.
Mr Bruder cited how no representations had been received by Merseyside Police and said it “was not the case” there had been any issues with anti-social behaviour around the venue. He acknowledged it was “understandable” the application may seem “more contentious” given its location on Lark Lane.
Committee chair, Cllr Christine Banks, was critical of the decision to operate the area without formal planning permission, accusing Mr Gutmann of “putting the cart before the horse” adding, “you’re a businessman, you’ve been around a long time, you’re not soft.”
Cllr Malcolm Kelly added: “This feels very much like ‘let’s see what happens with the fallout and if people don’t notice, they don’t notice.’ All of which has been done without the benefit of planning permission.
“We’re sitting here considering this retrospectively when we shouldn’t be.”
Cllr Crone had sought to defer a decision on the plans to allow for a determination to be reached on the planning application. He told members how there had been a “precedent” set by other businesses in the area to close at 10pm and the additional hour for the external area felt too late.
The city’s Green group leader added how he felt the Green Man “stood out” on Lark Lane as a venue that offered a later opening and “could become a magnet for the drunkest people” in the area. Mr Gutmann claimed he had offered Cllr Crone a meeting to discuss his concerns but the latter did not respond.
Cllr Crone added: “People are going to be affected by this and I don’t think it’s fair.” The committee moved to grant the licence variation on condition signs were put up clearly displaying an external area closing time of 11pm.