Fulford House pub in Hartcliffe to close and be converted into a shared home after plans are approved

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The loss of the Fulford House pub leaves just one pub within a 20-minute walk of an area that contains 18,000 residents

Plans to turn a pub in Hartcliffe into a shared home for up to 34 people have been approved - despite more than 100 objections.

Bristol City councillors voted by 5-2 in favour of the application by the landlord of the Fulford House in Hartcliffe despite 112 objections and fears from neighbours that the proposed pair of 11-bedroom houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) will become a “viper’s nest of illegal activity”.

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Bristol City Council development control committee agreed with officers’ advice to grant permission after hearing the pub was no longer commercially viable and had been on the market for over a year without any interest.

Residents told the meeting on Wednesday night (February 2) that the conversion would be “disastrous” for the area and would attract “undesirable characters”, leading to more crime and antisocial behaviour.

Ward Cllr Kerry Bailes said there were dubious claims in the applicant’s viability report, including the assertion there were “vast” amounts of alternative pubs nearby which was wrong as there were no others within walking distance.

Plans were approved to turn the Fulford House in Hartcliffe into bedsitsPlans were approved to turn the Fulford House in Hartcliffe into bedsits
Plans were approved to turn the Fulford House in Hartcliffe into bedsits

The council’s case officer agreed with that and admitted the authority did not routinely scrutinise pub viability reports thoroughly because of a lack of resource and expertise.

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One of the objections was from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) which disputed that the pub was not viable.

Committee member Green Cllr Tom Hathway said HMOs were clearly out of keeping with the area and he was voting against the plans.

He said: “The loss of the pub leaves just one boozer within a 20-minute walk of an area that contains 18,000 residents.

“It’s not beyond the realms of belief that this community hub could be a lot more than viable.”

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Hartcliffe & Withywood Labour Cllr Paul Goggin said he did not like the idea of it closing but residents had highlighted antisocial behaviour, drugs and items including knives, baseball bats and syringes being thrown over the pub wall.

“So obviously the pub in its current state is not only not viable financially but not viable with the current management.” he said.

“As for an HMO, getting on for 20 years ago I ended up becoming homeless due to ill-health and financial reasons and I lived in an emergency B&B, an HMO, in Fishponds for six months and then another in Bedminster for another nine months.

“And I’m disappointed with some of the comments people have made in their objections, talking about ‘unsavoury people, a viper’s nest of illegal activity, a halfway house, another load of horrible people, druggies, ex-offenders, people out of work who will create noise, unwelcome groups gathering’.

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“I understand it’s through a lack of knowing who exactly will be moving in, but I don’t like that kind of opinion on vulnerable people.”

But he said the viability report suggested landlord Clive Milkins, who has run the pub since the late 1990s, could not carry on.

“So I’m afraid I’m going to support the application but I’m not happy with it,” Cllr Goggin added.

Committee chairman Tory Cllr Richard Eddy said he was a champion of community pubs but that the viability report showed the business was not sustainable.

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He said housing was the city’s number one priority so an HMO was an acceptable alternative use.

Lib Dem Cllr Andrew Varney said: “Feelings are very strong and overwhelmingly in opposition to this proposal.

“I agree the loss of this pub will be a real loss to the local community and it would be great if we could keep this pub but unfortunately no one has come forward with a proposal to continue with a public house at this location.”

The plans involve minor alterations to the exterior, including a single-storey extension in place of a makeshift smoking shelter.

The committee also agreed to write to mayor Marvin Rees to request pub viability reports were examined and challenged in greater depth in future.

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