Jason Kalen, owner of ‘The Marlborough’ (formerly ‘The Sun Inn’ at the western end of the High Street adjacent to St Peter’s Church) was reported to be ‘livid’ after being informed by Wiltshire Council that his new £50,000 ‘The Chalet’ (‘Pizzeria’ and ‘Cocktail Bar’) for outside dining ‘contravenes Covid-19 rules’.
Marlborough.news was unable to contact Jason Kalen for comment, but a Wiltshire Council spokesperson told us that: “we are now contacting Mr Kalen to find out more about his new structure and to work with him and offer advice on what he needs to do to ensure it meets planning and licensing regulations”
According to reports Mr Kalen stated that he followed Wiltshire Council’s advice to comply with the regulations. Wiltshire Council responded in the same report by adding: “government guidance had not changed and outdoor roofed structures had to have at least 50% of their walls open when in use, which his did not.”, to which Mr Kalen replied “It’s disgusting. Less than a week before we’re supposed to open saying it doesn’t comply. It makes no sense.”
How does this fit in with or contravene Government guidelines? Sam Fox, Director for Place for Wiltshire Council told marlborough.news: “Following confirmation by the Government on Easter Monday that we will definitely be moving to Step 2 of the Roadmap on 12 April 2021, we emailed over 800 alcohol licensed premises in Wiltshire reminding them of the guidance on outdoor hospitality. This guidance is not new and is the same as the guidance issued previously following the last re-opening prior to Christmas which was covered by the ‘All Tiers’ regulations.”
Adding: “This should not come as any surprise to the hospitality industry – we received numerous complaints about outdoor seating areas becoming very enclosed during the last re-opening period prior to Christmas. Gov.uk guidance has been very clear about outdoor seating areas and licensees can find the guidance online.”
Would this require Planning consent? No application for consent has as yet been submitted, whether it does or not will depend on the nature of the building and whether it’s deemed sufficiently ‘permanent’. One aspect of current guidance is that any such external structure erected by any hospitality/entertainment venue will need to have ‘at least 50% of the area of the walls open at all times whilst in use’.
Wiltshire Council were not able to comment on this aspect at this stage but they did tell marlborough.news: “With regard to The Marlborough, we were originally advised via the press that Mr Kalen had purchased a marquee, but photos of the structure appear to show a wooden chalet. Our Public Protection Team became involved at this site following a noise complaint in October 2020 but this outside structure was not discussed at this stage. We have now contacted Mr Kalen to find out more about his new structure and to work with him and offer advice on what he needs to do to ensure it meets planning and licensing regulations.”
To add to the confusion regarding this addition, ‘The Marlborough’ – or formerly ‘The Sun Inn’ is a listed building. Normally any such addition within the curtilage (boundaries) of the property would require Listed Building consent.
The Government has attempted to soften the regulations for Listed Buildings with further government guidance issued by the Chief Planning Officer on April 1st: “To further support the hospitality sector as the economy reopens, it is also the Government’s intention to create a temporary permitted development right to allow pubs, restaurants and cafes to erect temporary moveable outdoor structures for the summer season. For the first time, this will also apply to listed buildings provided there is no harm to the heritage asset. Legislation will be laid at the earliest opportunity.”
Whether this means that Mr Kalen’s new ‘The Chalet’ will require Planning permission and/or Listed Building consent, or be recognised as meeting the necessary guidelines is unclear as yet. But, as he told the BBC in an interview: “It’s the lack of timing…it’s just not fair.” Mr Kalen further said that having worked closely with the council to realise his project “to suddenly do this to us is outrageous. I’m livid.”