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The Old Bell: Neighbour opposes Sawbridgeworth pub's application for canopy and lights but town mayor backs it

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A planning application by a pub to make a temporary canopy and lights in its garden permanent has split the community.

The Old Bell, in Bell Street, Sawbridgeworth, has applied to East Herts Council for the regularisation of a canopy and the erection of three lights.

An objection to the application has been lodged by near neighbours Mr and Mrs Paul O’Leary, with concerns raised over the impact on the conservation area.

The canopy in the garden of The Old Bell, Sawbridgeworth (49350700)
The canopy in the garden of The Old Bell, Sawbridgeworth (49350700)

They fear the level of noise and disturbance will mean their rear double bedroom will be unsuitable for sleeping before midnight most Friday and Saturday nights.

Their objections have been echoed by town and district councillor and former mayor Ruth Buckmaster, who says the lights would be “an invasion of privacy” and there would be an increase in noise levels.

But two other councillors have backed the application. Town mayor Cllr Greg Rattey gave his "100% support", adding he was “totally satisfied” the pub had taken into account the local area.

Town mayor Greg Rattey gave his 100% support for the plan (49500752)
Town mayor Greg Rattey gave his 100% support for the plan (49500752)

Pub manager Lee Davis said he had always wanted to make better use of the outside area as he had “the biggest garden in Sawbridgeworth and the smallest pub”.

The pub was refurbished during the last coronavirus lockdown and ownership was taken over by Darren and Josh Grover, who own the Hand and Crown in High Wych.

It reopened in May, advertising its “extensive outdoor garden space” with plans for a new children’s play area. The pub has also invited local group Youth Create to run activities for children and has pop-up visits from Campana Pizza.

Lee said: “We’re very much about the local community and we’ve made the Old Bell the hub of the town.”

The pub’s application is also supported by former mayors Dr John Burmicz, who is still a town councillor, and Roger Beeching, who used to be on the town and district councils.

Mr Beeching believed his previous role as chairman of East Herts Council’s licensing committee meant he was qualified to comment on the application, which he said was “an essential part of the progress and process of a growth in community spirit” in the town.

The application will be considered at a meeting of EHC’s development management committee.

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