Chorley pub's licence changes after resident says she 'can't have a conversation' in her own garden

A resident of a Chorley village says she and her neighbours have struggled to escape the live music laid on by a local pub every Sunday since the last lockdown was lifted.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 3:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 3:26 pm

Anne Peet told a meeting of Chorley Council’s Licensing Act sub-committee that the weekly entertainment in the grounds of the Lord Nelson in Croston had led to some of those living nearby deciding to go out on Sundays to avoid noise which she said had become “too much”.

The committee had been convened to discuss an application by the premises licence-holder, Punch Taverns, to remove a licence clause requiring it to ensure that sound emanating from the venue does not exceed the “ambient background noise” at the boundary of the property – meaning that the music volume will no longer have to be turned down if it breaches that level.

However, an existing requirement for a risk assessment to be carried out for outdoor events at the pub – with the intention of “preventing any noise disturbance” to nearby properties – will remain.

The Lord Nelson in Croston has been hosting live music on Sunday afternoons during the summer months (image: Neil Cross)

The pub company also offered to restrict the times of day and year during which live music can be staged – cutting it from midday until midnight all year round to between 12 noon and 9pm from April through to September only.

The request was accepted by the committee almost in its entirety – although members decided that the plug must be pulled on performances no later than 8pm on a Sunday.

Mrs. Peet told the meeting that in the six weeks since the application to vary the licence had been submitted, the volume during the Sunday events had become much more tolerable and if it were to continue at that level, it “wouldn’t be a problem”.

However, she expressed concern at the removal of the ambient noise clause – and set out for councillors what life had been like earlier in the summer.

“We [couldn’t] sit outside and hold a conversation. Then we’d come into the house, shut the back door – [and] you could still hear [the music] in the kitchen.

“We’d just like to come to some kind of a resolution – we don’t want to fall out over it…we just want things to be a little bit quieter,” said Mrs. Peet, who has lived in Croston for almost 40 years.

The villager said that she had “always had a good rapport” with the three pubs within earshot of her property.

“I appreciate what the pub [is] trying to do – I know they’re trying to attract customers and we don’t want the pub to close or anything like that, but we just ask for a little bit of consideration,” Mrs. Peet added.

The committee was advised that it could not take into account the fact that the longstanding resident had said she was speaking on behalf of others in the area – and members were also told that the occupant of one of the houses closer to the pub than that of Mrs. Peet had put it in writing that he did not have a problem with the volume of music.

Ewen Macgregor, a solicitor representing Punch Taverns at the committee, said that the proposed revision to the Lord Nelson’s licence amounted to a “much tighter condition” – and was “critical to the ongoing survival of the pub”.

“It protects the local residents and it also enables the pub to continue [as a] viable business.

“It is a community pub, it sits in the heart of the community – [and] it’s important for [them] that they get on with their neighbours,” Mr. Macgregor said.

The meeting heard that the live entertainment usually took the form of a solo singer or duo accompanied either by a piano or guitar – and that there had been no complaints about any other aspect of how the venue was operated or the behaviour of its punters.

Mr. Macgregor suggested that a meeting between the venue and council licensing officers prior to the application for a revised licence had led to the reduction in noise experienced by Mrs. Peet in recent weeks.

“Since we had the meeting, there has obviously been a change in the way the business has been operated and that can only really be a good thing.

“Hopefully, by the time the summer comes again, the good measures that we have installed since the application has been lodged will continue [once] the pub is able to provide entertainment again,” he added.

Issuing the committee’s decision, its chair, Cllr Matthew Lynch, said that the operator of the premises appeared to have ”gone the extra mile by offering…conditions which are more restrictive than currently on the license”.

He added that while Mrs. Peet’s representation was “relevant”, there had been no concerns raised by any responsible authorities – including environmental health officers, whom he described as “experts in their area”.

In a statement following the decision, Punch Pubs & Co’s operations manager, Rick Rose-Coulthard said: “Music is an integral part of the Lord Nelson’s offering and the support shown by guests for these incredible acts has been extremely heartening after a challenging 18 months.

“At the same time, the publicans remain sensitive to noise levels, so are committed to working positively with the local council and immediate residents to ensure the pub meets the needs of the entire community.”

Mrs. Peet and a local representative of the Lord Nelson were both approached by the Local Democracy Reporting Service and offered the chance to make further comment after the meeting.