IN July 2019 Oldham Council refused a retrospective planning application from Donkeystone Brewery in Greenfield for a change of use “of industrial floorspace to use as a drinking establishment (brewery tap)”.Reasons stated for the rejection were: “The cumulative impact of noise, disturbance and related activities that would result because of the change of use would be harmful to the living conditions of existing residents.”
It was also stated the proposed development at Boarshurst Business Park off Boarshurst Lane would not improve “the economic, social and environmental conditions of the area and therefore does not comprise sustainable development.”
Planning chair Barbara Brownridge confirmed refusal but said the decision was “on the ‘clear understanding’ that the brewery could come back with a scheme to address to the noise issues which would address the committee’s concerns.”
A revised application was duly received and validated by Oldham Council on October 3.
Last month Saddleworth Parish Council’s planning committee, which previously voted in favour of Donkeystone’s plan, recommended refusal for the new application.
Both sides of the argument are now preparing their respective cases in readiness for a new hearing before Oldham Council’s planning committee.
No date has officially been set, with the next official planning meeting scheduled for Wednesday, December 18.
To view all documents relating to the case visit Oldham Council’s website and search PA-343995-19.
The Independent asked both sides to set out their cases:
The case for …
Statement from Donkeystone Brewery
We were shocked by the refusal of our previous planning application back in July, despite being approved by every council department as well as Saddleworth Parish Council.
Following the decision we listened to the concerns that had been raised by some of our neighbours about their loss of amenity and have now submitted a materially different planning application which addresses their concerns.
This new application has significantly reduced opening hours, conditions restricting us from being able to have any live or amplified music and no eating or drinking allowed outside the premises.
Despite this the objectors have strengthened their resolve to fight against us and have spent tens of thousands of pounds employing planning consultants, acoustic consultants and even enlisted one of the UK’s largest legal firms to fight us.It has been very hard for us as a young fledgling local business to compete with this and it has seriously effected our business.
Since our last planning application was rejected we have had to make four local people unemployed and the loss of our main sales tool has really effected our continued growth which could further threaten jobs.
Donkeystone Brewing Co was started back in 2017 by four local guys with the idea of creating a great local business for the local community to enjoy and be proud of.
Since starting the business we worked very hard and managed to build a business that grew and created local jobs for the local area.
This surely is the point of a business park situated within a Saddleworth Employment Zone.
The objectors don’t seem to understand the fact that the brewery tap is a very vital tool for all modern day breweries.
It is our most powerful selling tool as it allows us to showcase our range of ales in the best possible conditions.
It is a very competitive market out there and for a pub landlord to have a couple of his regulars speak to them in glowing terms about their visit to our brewery is a very powerful selling tool for us.
We received on average five to six calls a month from new customers asking for more information from us following such situations whilst the tap room was open.
These customers have all now become regular customers.
Unfortunately, we have been targeted by a few very wealthy, well connected and positioned individuals who have a personal grudge against us.
It is a real shame that in this day and age such class differences exist where a few people of high standing can control the day to day operations of small businesses who are trying to thrive and survive.
We ask that all of you out there who are behind us to please take a moment to send a comment of support for our application.
Also if you are available to come along to the planning meeting please do as your support could be crucial in saving a local business.
The case against …
A statement from local residents opposed to planning application
Donkeystone’s new application is not materially different to the previous one rejected by Oldham Council’s Planning Committee in July and therefore the same problems persist.
Saddleworth Parish Council has recommended refusal on the grounds that “The proposal would result in a loss of amenity due to the impact of noise, disturbance and other related activities harmful to the living conditions of existing residents.”
This new application proposes conditions to “control” noise inside and outside, but in reality the conditions are unenforceable.
The new application makes no attempt whatsoever to sound insulate Donkeystone’s light industrial units.All they are offering are the same assurances regarding noise and outside use as they did in 2017.
Oldham Council demanded a retrospective application in January this year.
The so-called “taster” bar had become a public bar selling other manufacturers’ drinks. It hosted live music events, was hired out for private parties and provided a beer garden, despite the Council refusing Donkeystone’s request for a beer garden in 2017.
Nothing new has been put forward in the new application to address the issues which have resulted in numerous complaints of noise, and anti-social behaviour.
Residents believe over time the owners will look to extend hours beyond 10.30pm (their 2017 alcohol licence application and their previous planning application asked to trade seven days a week to 1am and 11.30pm respectively).
For over 20 years Oldham Council has applied strict planning conditions to all businesses on Boarshurst, which limit operating hours and noise.
All previous planning permissions have required businesses to close at 6pm on weekdays, at 6pm latest on Saturday (others at 1pm), and not open at all on Sundays or Bank Holidays.
Each time Oldham Council have given the same reason – to protect the amenity of residents.
Oldham Council’s records show the vast majority of Donkeystone’s supporters don’t even live in Greenfield, let alone near the Business Park.
The opposite is true of the 70 or so residents strongly opposed to the application – the vast majority do live in Greenfield and most live close to the Business Park.
They are directly affected by the disturbance it creates. This is a local issue affecting local people.
Residents have no objection whatsoever to Donkeystone operating their brewery, nor to the operation of a small “taster” bar during normal business hours on Boarshurst, but unfortunately this isn’t all Donkeystone want to do.
Given past experience, residents remain concerned that its owners still want to run a late-night public bar and music/events venue (the new application doesn’t prevent non amplified music or entertainment, for example).
The key issue is the proposed change of use is incompatible with the proper use of this light industrial estate, where all other businesses have operated for decades in harmony with the peaceful residential surroundings. Boarshurst Business Park is a reasonable site for a brewery, but a wholly inappropriate site for a public bar.