Knowle community venue wins bid to sell alcohol despite neighbours’ concerns

‘I get the impression they’re trying to get a full pub licence through the back door’

<p>Redcatch Community Gardens at Redcatch Park has won permission to sell alcohol</p>

Redcatch Community Gardens at Redcatch Park has won permission to sell alcohol

A community garden in a Bristol park with a booze ban has won a licence to sell alcohol, despite neighbours fears the owners will use it as a “back door” route to turn the garden into a pub.

Redcatch Community Garden is a community benefit society that operates from the site of the old bowling green in Redcatch Park in Knowle.

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The park is covered by a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) prohibiting people from drinking alcohol there. It was introduced after drinking caused problems for park visitors.

The community garden at The Pavilion on Broad Walk hosts community and charitable events, and runs educational projects such as teaching school children how to grow vegetables and cook healthy meals.

It also runs a growing number of profit-making ventures, such as a pop-up restaurant on Friday nights, to reduce its reliance on grant funding, a licensing committee heard.

The society’s founders said they were applying for a permanent seven-day licence to sell alcohol from the garden between 10am and 10pm so they could continue to run the events without having to apply for a temporary licence every time, an exercise they said was time-consuming and costly for an organisation run mostly by volunteers.

But Gerald Galloway, who was among 21 residents who contacted the council about the application, told the licensing hearing on November 4: “I get the impression they’re trying to get a full pub licence through the back door.”

Mr Galloway said the park was the “wrong place” for a licenced venue, especially as the community garden has no toilets, so visitors use the public toilets “about ten yards” from a well-used children’s play area.

Katie Swain, one of the garden’s founders, said they had submitted a planning application to build public toilets within the community garden, but in the meantime directed visitors to use the public toilets in summer, as well as toilets in the Pavilion in winter.

The entrances to the garden are from the park, but it is surrounded by a six-foot fence and staff keep visitors from venturing out into the park with alcohol, the meeting heard.

Knowle councillor Gary Hopkins said the community garden had been running for four years, and it would be “very damaging” to the area if it were not able to operate “freely”.

The Bristol City Council committee granted the licence, subject to conditions agreed with pollution control officers and additional conditions imposed at the meeting.

The extra conditions require that amplified music does not disturb residents in their homes, notices are put up advising of any event planned to finish after 8pm, signs tell visitors to leave quietly, and any drinks sold as off-sales must be in sealed containers.