Tears and anger as Wetherspoon plan is approved in Milton Keynes

There were tears and anger as residents lost their long-running battle to stop a new Wetherspoon pub being allowed in Newport Pagnell.

There were tears from one mum as she described to a committee the thought of having smoke from the pub garden in St John's Street drifting into her asthmatic child’s bedroom from next door.

The site in Newport Pagnell

The site in Newport Pagnell

Mum of four Gemma Beecher added: “We have been informed that the impact of this on our property price would be at least £100,000 and negatively impact the ability to sell. We failed to sell.”

The development control committee was told that it could not consider property prices. Mrs Beecher also objected on grounds of noise, and only knowing about the meeting through social media.

The committee was told that the council had followed its consultation procedures and other matters were considered acceptable by environmental health officers.

Calling the plan a “grotesquely enormous pub” St John's Street resident Don Allison predicted that “Newport will become a late night boozing centre, attracting people from far and wide.”

He added that “Cheap booze attracts serious drinkers,” and warned that there would be more hooliganism, noise, and fighting if the plan went ahead.

And Mark Bryant, of The Swan Revived, said the proposal “chills me to the core”, and urged the committee not to give in to the “deep pockets” of Wetherspoon.

For Wetherspoon, agent Jamie Pyper said heritage objections had been the only grounds that an earlier plan had been rejected. But he said these had now been overcome thanks to a “significant redesign”.

He said: “Wetherspoon has many pubs close to dwellings, which are well run and do not create problems.”

Councillors probed the possibility rejecting the application for the former Robinson’s wine bar.

But they were told by planning officers that even though the scheme fell more than 100 parking spaces short, their grounds had been undermined by a planning inspector earlier this year.
And even though they could try to use a lack of parking once more, in the hope that another inspector would come to a different conclusion, there was still a big risk that the council would lose and taxpayers would receive a large legal bill.

Cllr John Bint (Cons, Broughton) said the council has been “stomped on” by the inspector. “Another inspector can say there is enough parking and can make the council and the taxpayer pay for costs”.

“Personally I have considerable sympathy but we are collectively being very heavily advised that we cannot use that as a reason to object to this scheme.”

And Cllr Keith McLean (Cons, Olney) said: “This is a decision where my heart is saying one thing and my head says another. We all know that Newport Pagnell has a parking problem.”

He argued that if permission was granted with conditions, it was better than losing at appeal and having no conditions.

There was anger as defeated residents filed out of the Milton Keynes Council Chamber, with one disgruntled man shouting “you can collect your cheques later”.