A PUB has been forced to rip up decking in its garden after being told to spend up to £8,000 on fencing to shield it from a disgruntled neighbour.

The Mowden Pub, on Staindrop Road, Darlington, had hoped to transform its outdoor area but were quickly met with opposition from council planning officers.

The pub’s owners Simon and Rachel Leadbetter built the decked area to cover their “badly damaged and potholed” area of the beer garden, which was beginning to blight its image and posed a health and safety risk to customers.

They installed the decking during the coronavirus lockdown in April last year when the pub was closed – but were quickly met with opposition from a neighbour who had complained to the council about its installation.

Read more: Darlington pub wins national lockdown heroes award

The Northern Echo: Simon and Rachel Leadbetter with Darlington MP Peter Gibson at The Mowden Pub in DarlingtonSimon and Rachel Leadbetter with Darlington MP Peter Gibson at The Mowden Pub in Darlington

In a post on social media, the owners said: “Literally the day after we had completed it (bearing in mind we are still closed completely at this point) I receive an email informing us that our friendly neighbours had put in a complaint about it.”

Mr Leadbetter soon found that because they had raised the level of the floor, by around four inches, the decking would require retrospective planning permission.

The pub owner said he applied and paid for the planning permission but later faced a further setback.

The owners said: “The council in their wisdom came to the decision that they would only grant planning if we installed a 2m high acoustic fence (the sort that barriers motorways with housing developments) along the full boundary to mitigate the noise levels the new decking would attract!”

A previous picture of the pub’s outdoor area from 2014, and shared on social media, showed several picnic tables outside the building without a fence.

But after spending £800 on the decking itself, Mr Leadbetter was shocked to receive a quote for the fencing as high as £8,000.

And this week, the couple started to remove the decking after being priced out of its overall installation.

The Northern Echo: The decking area at the pub, which is now being removedThe decking area at the pub, which is now being removed

“This week we find ourselves in the ludicrous position of having to pull up our hard work and get rid of it,” the couple added.

“Nonsensical Madness!

“The plan now is to turn it all into lovely planters, dress the area where it was with fake grass (surely that doesn’t need planning !!) and make the whole area even more attractive.”

It comes after a plan to provide a safe and weather-proof wooden canopy at the pub was approved by councillors in 2020. 

But a planning refusal notice for the latest application from Darlington Council read: “Without appropriate mitigation, the proposal will have an adverse impact on the residential amenities of nearby occupiers and therefore conflicts with Policy CS16 of the Darlington Core Strategy (2011).”

The Northern Echo contacted Mr Leadbetter and he confirmed he had no further comment to make.

The Northern Echo: The outdoor area at The Mowden The outdoor area at The Mowden

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