Wetherspoons has drawn up a 20-point plan to prevent rowdy drunks and football fans from annoying Bristol neighbours.
The chain has sought to reassure residents living near its proposed new pub along Gloucester Road in Horfield, where it has been seeking planning permission for years to open inside a disused shop.
It is still awaiting a decision from Bristol City Council on its latest scheme, but its application has now been refreshed with a four-page statement setting out how it will avoid noise and antisocial behaviour among customers.
Measures include a ‘home fans only’ rule and increased door security on Bristol Rovers match days, a daily 9pm closing time for its outdoor roof terrace, and a direct line of contact between managers and immediate neighbours.
JD Wetherspoon’s plans were submitted to the council in February 2020, seeking approval to open inside a boarded-up unit formerly occupied by a supermarket.
Supporters of the proposal argue that it will regenerate an eyesore site, which is thought to have been vacant for at least 10 years.
Despite earlier versions of its proposal being rejected by planners in years past, the chain hopes to start works next year if it succeeds this time.
The new document submitted to the council sets out how it intends to be a good neighbour, with a list of 20 pledges including to provide the managers’ contact details to nearby residents prior to opening, and to arrange regular meetings.
‘Families and pensioners’
It states: “The nature of our food and drink offer and the competitive pricing structure encourages a broad range of customers including families and pensioners to our premises.
“[This] assists in creating an atmosphere in which troublesome customers do not feel comfortable.”
The plan notes that “a significant number of our premises have residents, businesses and other noise sensitive uses adjacent to them with no history of complaint”.
It adds that Wetherspoons has “always emphasised the importance of building close relationships with our neighbours”.
The document, dated February 2021, was published on the council’s website today (Tuesday, June 15) alongside a lengthy noise impact assessment.
Match day rules to avoid ‘flash points’
The potential for flare-ups between rival sports supporters has been identified as a potential cause of antisocial behaviour, due to the proposed pub’s proximity to the Memorial Stadium and Bristol County Ground.
To avoid this, if the pub is allowed to open, there will be a strict home-only fans rule on Bristol Rovers match days and increased security.
Rovers fans will even have to prove their allegiance to the club.
The planning document states: “‘Flash points’ will be avoided during Bristol Rovers FC match days as the pub will be a home fans only pub with entry controlled where necessary by showing a ticket/season ticket or with valid ID showing they are local to the area.
“In advance of the public house opening, JD Wetherspoon will liaise with Bristol Rovers FC and the police for them to use their social media channels to communicate that on match days, the public house will not be open to away fans.
“Managers will work closely with local police and if intelligence is received about the possibility of organised confrontations between fans, then the necessary precautions will be taken including closing the pub where necessary.”
It notes that closure for this reason would be “extremely rare”.
The proposed trading hours for the pub are 7am-11.30pm on Sunday-Thursdays, and 7am-12.20am on Friday and Saturdays.
It will have capacity for 850 customers but its noise impact assessment notes that “that level of trade would be expected on a handful of trading days throughout the year”, such as match days and Christmas, and “it would be very rare that 850 people get up and leave a public house all at once”.
The noise assessment argues that due to the noise level already present along Gloucester Road at night, even the “worst case scenario” at closing time would not make a significant difference.
Outside, the enclosed terrace would have capacity for between 120 and 130 customers, but would have an earlier closing time of 9pm to address neighbours’ concerns about noise.
The planning document adds: “JD Wetherspoon will operate a zero-tolerance policy towards poor customer behaviour in this area alongside all areas in the pub.
“The premises management will ensure that staff are made aware of the need to respect the rights of our neighbours to the quiet enjoyment of their homes.”
It is not yet clear when the council will make its decision on the planning application.