Village pub near Bristol wins fight to keep bar in award-winning beer garden

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A group of locals said loud music from the garden was disturbing them

The Rising Sun in Pensford has won a fight with village locals to keep a bar in its beer garden – which was named Britain’s best in 2020. The beer garden sits on the banks of the River Chew with views of the neighbouring village church and the Pensford Viaduct. It also features its own external bar.

St Austell Brewery, which took on the pub in 2019, recently discovered that this bar had never been licensed and applied to Bath and North East Somerset Council to make it legal. The bar would be open until 10pm and be supervised while open.

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But a group of locals from the Somerset village came along to the pub’s licensing hearing in Bath on Thursday to oppose the application. They said loud music from the garden was disturbing them and that the pub wanted to turn into an events venue.

The Rising Sun’s solicitor, Ewen Macgregor, argued that having a bar in the garden was a positive. He said: “It assists with customer flow, it assists with supervision, and it also stops customers from the pub from walking across the car park to the external garden.”

Mr Macgregor said that refusing the licence would not stop people drinking there, as that was allowed regardless. It only concerned whether they could buy drinks there. He added that neither police nor environmental protection were opposing the application, and that it had received supporting comments from some people in the village.

The award-winning beer garden at The Rising Sun at PensfordThe award-winning beer garden at The Rising Sun at Pensford
The award-winning beer garden at The Rising Sun at Pensford | The Rising Sun

He said: “There is no reason why this application should be refused.”

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But other people from Pensford argued there was too much loud music coming from the garden and that the pub was trying to become an events venue, an issue which has caused friction in the small rural community.

Richard Garlant told the meeting he did not think anybody minded people having a drink outside. He said:  “It’s when they started playing outside music and held weddings. Since then, we have had problems.”

Another person who lives nearby said: “Being a reasonable person who bought a house next to a pub I expect a level of noise.” But they added: “The management of the pub must also accept that they took on a pub in a residential village in a conservation area.”

In a comment made outside the meeting, landlord Lisa Faulkner claimed that the pub had only played amplified music outside on 12 days of the year.

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Kenneth Jones, who says he often has to leave his home due to noise from the Rising Sun, said: “I wish to say that we don’t wish to damage the profitability of this pub. However, we suffer from excessive noise from this pub.”

He added: “A senior member of staff at this pub confronted locals who objected to this bar.”

A neighbour added: “These complaints have always been met with a combative response of ‘we have got a licence.’”

The Rising Sun in the village of Pensford near BristolThe Rising Sun in the village of Pensford near Bristol
The Rising Sun in the village of Pensford near Bristol | The Rising Sun

Although council officers say the Rising Sun does have a licence to play music in the beer garden, locals dispute this. Paul Baxter said: “The right […] has never been applied for or granted.”

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Supporters of the pub also attended the meeting but did not speak.

Rob Appleyard, chairing the licensing committee, said it was not the forum for complaints about music. He said: “All we are here to determine is the location people can purchase drinks from.”

The committee decided that the bar in the beer garden should be able to continue to sell drinks and granted the licence.

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