JD Wetherspoon wants to open in Welwyn Garden City until 1.30am

PUBLISHED: 10:30 05 August 2018 | UPDATED: 08:55 06 August 2018

Wetherspoon's Parkway site. Picture: Chris Flanagan.

Wetherspoon's Parkway site. Picture: Chris Flanagan.

Archant

A JD Wetherspoon bar in Welwyn Garden City could be open to the public until 1.30am at weekends and half past midnight during the week, if plans are given the go ahead.

Julie Wilcox
Picture: Jon WoolhouseJulie Wilcox Picture: Jon Woolhouse

The pub chain’s hotel/bar proposal for 22 Parkway is currently open to public consultation on Welwyn Hatfield Council’s website.

JD Wetherspoon has already had two previous plans to put a pub on the site blocked.

With its latest application, it states; “The bar will principally serve hotel guests, but will be accessible to people not residing in the hotel.

“The area of the proposals occupied by the bar area is significantly less than the standard JD Wetherspoon public house, which is a minimum 400sqm and represents a small component of the overall proposals in floor spaces terms (approximately 20%).

“Futhermore, the majority of revenue for this site will be generated by the hotel rooms and as such, the bar is an ancillary component to the intended use.”

Along with 13 guest rooms, JD Wetherspoon proposes a ground floor hotel lounge and bar area with a floorspace of about 148sqm.

The company plans to remove the car park and replace it with a garden as a feature for the guest bedrooms, retaining existing trees.

With regards to customer parking, JD Wetherspoon states: “It is considered that adequate parking provision exists within the vicinity to cater for any demand that may arise.”

At the front of the 1920s building, the post and chain fence would be retained and customers would not be allowed to access this area of lawn.

According to the plans, there would be no beer garden.

In its planning statement, the company says: “During the course of determination of the previous application, a number of objections from local residents were received, particularly with regards to the relationship of the proposed beer garden to the rear with nearby residential properties.

“The beer garden has been removed and the bar area reduced significantly being limited to only part of the proposed ground floor and representing an ancillary element of the proposed hotel use.

“The proposals therefore significantly differ from the previous proposals.”

JD Wetherspoon has also promised that there would be “no playing of music or amplified sound” and has touted its “dispersal and good neighbour policy”, which features a minimum “30 minutes drinking-up time” to encourage “the gradual dispersal of all customers… at the end of the evening.”

In response to the latest plans, WGC workers reacted with trepidation.

“It’s been a hell of a long time since someone’s done anything with that site,” said Rhys Christie, a local parking attendant.

Rhys added: “I’m not sure about a Wetherspoon’s though, it’s not exactly what I’d put there.”

Paul Brown, a WGC-based web designer, echoed the need for development.

He said: “Welwyn does need a few more places, a later place to drink, but the right kind of places.

“Cote is really nice for a example.

“A Slug and Lettuce or a gastropub would be good.”

“Brilliant,” exclaimed Vanessa Hale enthusiastically, who manages care homes in the region.

She said: “The lot looks very derelict.

“I walk past it with my dogs all the time and it’s horrible.

“The need to do something with it.”

Others reserved a touch of scepticism. Julie Wilcox, owner of a boutique in the Howard Centre, said that “business-wise, it’s a good location for a hotel, but you know what their businesses are like - once they’re in they’ll change the use of the place.”

JD Wetherspoon already has over 40 hotels and 900 rooms across the UK.

In conclusion to its application, it stated; “Aside from the fact that the proposals have been shown to be fully compatible with the [council’s] Development Plan, the substantial economic benefits arising from the creation of 50 full time jobs has been outlined and this in itself represents a significant material consideration which must form part of the decision making process.”

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