New beer garden plans at The Grey Friar pub in Preston city centre knocked back

One of Preston's biggest city centre pubs could be blocked from building a permanent outdoor seating area, despite drinkers sitting there for the past 10 years.

By Brian Ellis
Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 8:40 am

The Grey Friar, owned by JD Wetherspoon, wants to create a larger beer garden overlooking the busy Friargate/Ringway junction.

But the company's plans for up to 78 seats behind glazed screens would mean the loss of established shrubs outside the venue - the only substantial greenery along that stretch of the busy shopping street.

And council officers say that is "unacceptable from a visual amenity perspective."

The Grey Friar already has a seating area outside.

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Planners also claim the proposed barriers are "poorly designed" and would add to street clutter.

What are the plans?

Wetherspoons currently have temporary chairs, tables and screens outside the pub which are put away at night. The capacity for drinkers and diners is 14 on four tables.

The suggested expansion would add another 64 seats surrounded by permanent glazed steel barriers standing 1.2-metres tall.

This isn’t a new idea is it?

Drinkers have been sitting outside the Grey Friar for a decade since Preston Council approved tables, chairs and moveable screens in December 2011.

In fact the pub, which was a retail store up until 1995 had permission for a pavement cafe way back in 2006.

But making it larger and permanent has now fallen foul of the planning department.

What does the council say?

An officer report rejecting the scheme says: "It is considered the proposals would represent a noticeable material change in the nature of the outdoor seating area.

"The proposals would lead the seating area to become a permanent fixture within the street scene, unlike the existing barriers which can be easily packed away.

"Furthermore the height of the proposals at 1.2-metre would be taller than the waist-high barriers currently present and their impact would only be made more noticeable by the prominence and highly visible corner the site occupies.

"It is noted that the proposal would lead to the loss of the landscaping present on site and would therefore deprive the northern section of Friargate of any notable landscaping measures."

The report adds that the proposed street furniture had been "poorly designed" and meant the company had "prioritized the creation of a sheltered outdoor seating area above creating a development that would be cohesive with the neighbouring street scene."