Rhubarb Tavern: Anger over fresh plans to turn part of last pub in Barton Hill into homes

Developers have come back with a new proposal to convert part of the Rhubarb Tavern in Barton Hill
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Plans have been submitted to convert a part of the Rhubarb Tavern in Barton Hill into flats - after the developer claimed neighbours were not against the loss of historic pub.

London-based Natan Ltd want to turn the two upstairs levels of the pub in Queen Ann Road into two flats, and build an apartment block in the pub garden for six more homes.

The proposals come after the company withdrew plans in January to convert the entirety of the pub - but now, after feedback, it says the ground floor of the pub would be retained.

However, this has not appeased campaigners who say the lack of space would make it impossible for the reopening of the pub, which closed in 2020.

Members of the group We <3 Rhubarb Tavern Facebook group also fear for the future of the pub’s historic Victorian facade and question if the site is right location for flats.

The pub building, which sits opposite the empty Barton Hill Mixed School, is believed to date back to 1672. Toward the end of the 19th Century it was extended toward the street and a Town plan map for 1879 to 1888 shows the pub in operation.

Plans have been lodged to convert part of the Rhubarb Tavern into flatsPlans have been lodged to convert part of the Rhubarb Tavern into flats
Plans have been lodged to convert part of the Rhubarb Tavern into flats

But the pub’s future has looked uncertain since it closed in 2020, and despite a campaign to keep it open, developer Natan Ltd has submitted its planning application after gathering feedback on initial plans withdrawn in January.

It said the last tenants were unable to reverse a decline in takings for a number of reasons including a ‘substantial proportion’ of the local residents being Muslim, and because the industrial area around it had been redeveloped.

The developer said it had also received feedback from local residents who it said were not against the loss of the pub due to ‘noise and antisocial behaviour’. But it did accept there had been objections lodged against its plans to the council on the grounds of the loss of the pub.

As a result, it said the ground floor of the existing pub would be retained. A supporting document said: “While this will not in itself allow the pub to re-open, it allows the possibility that a viable offer can be obtained to launch a new business there.”

However, the ammendment has still left campaigners fearing the plan will spell the end of the pub.

A We <3 The Rhubarb Tavern campaign spokesperson said: “Viability of the pub will be jeopardised through the loss of the garden, loss of living space for a leaseholder, possible loss of kitchen space and the loss of larger spaces for events to be held within.”

The group is urging people to oppose the latest plans on the council’s website.

Among those to already lodge their objection is Thomas Goward, who runs a company team of 30 and says he has been ‘waiting for the only pub left in the ward to reopen’.

He added: “If the council accepted these plans then they would have another failing ground floor only pub site with limited outside space that would eventually become unviable.

“The Rhubarb Tavern should be kept in its entirely as a whole building.”

You can view the planning application by visiting https://pa.bristol.gov.uk/online-applications/search.do?action=simple&searchType=Application and using application number 22/01583/F