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Last year, we lost a Hydes’ estate pub, the High Grove in Gatley, to residential development. This year, it looks as though we are going to lose another, the Ryecroft Arms in Cheadle Hulme. Something that occurred to me is that both pubs were next door to shopping parades, and a micropub in one of the shop units might stand a better chance of success than the archetypal “beached whale” estate pub, and provide some kind of drinking facility for the considerable local population. Indeed, the big, all-singing, all-dancing pub was probably something that always appealed more to the tidy minds of planners than to drinkers, who might have preferred something smaller and more intimate.
So I was interested to read that a micropub had been proposed for a shopping parade on a housing estate in Chesterfield. However, it has met with a perhaps surprising amount of opposition, with a 162-signature petition being lodged in protest.
The petition complains that the new pub would cause an increase in anti-social behaviour, including litter, vandalism and disturbance, particularly at night. It also claims the development would not fit with the ‘young family’ demographic of the area and could cause residents to fear for their or their families safety when passing.
On the face of it, this sounds like a ridiculous exaggeration. The typical micropub is somewhere that very much appeals to well-behaved, middle-aged, middle-class drinkers and it’s hard to imagine it being a focus of trouble. The factors behind the rise of micropubs are well described in this comment on Martin Taylor’s blog. The report goes on to say:
On the social-networking website Streetlife, Geoff W said: “I’m personally in favour of such a development, a micropub is not the sort of place lager louts would be seen dead in - they don’t play music, and there are no gaming machines. “They’re used by like minded adults to meet and to use the old art of conversation over a quality beer - you would not know it was there.”
And in a business plan submitted to Chesterfield Borough Council, the man behind it says he hopes to turn the shop into a ‘community real ale pub’. He goes on to add that ‘drunken behaviour is not a hall mark of this type of premises’.
However, by definition the capacity of a micropub is limited, and the dynamics of the situation are completely changed once the customers start to spill outside, especially if that is the only “smoking solution” available. If there’s often a bunch of drinkers standing around outside the front door, it’s understandable that residents may not be entirely happy. This will especially be the case if the customers are a bit younger, more lively and, dare I say it, more working-class than those of the classic micropub.
I hope that the application goes through, and that the fears prove groundless. But I can see why some locals might be concerned about it, and maybe it will need a ban on taking drinks outside, and a closing time earlier than 11 pm.