Just Another Anytown UK?

Last week I received a very depressing update in my Facebook news feed. It was from Inn the Round and said:

“Regrettably we have to let everyone know that our plans for Gloucester’s first micro pub have had to come to an end. Whilst we really believe it would have added much to the city’s real ale scene we faced many challenges to achieve compliance with planning requirements. To achieve these in the end would have required far more resources and driven the set up costs far beyond what was achievable for us. We would like to thank everyone who showed their support.”

Inn the Round was a micro pub planned to open in a former pawnbrokers shop on the corner of Southgate Street and Llanthony Road. Apart from the fact that I have been looking forward its opening for months now, I was depressed on two counts.

Firstly, on a personal level, the above statement represents the end of one man’s dream. Here we have someone who believed in Gloucester enough to put his neck on the line and try to open a business in the city. Having spent months investing his blood, sweat and tears – not to mention money – into the venture, he was finally thwarted by planning requirements.

Looking at the wider picture, however, this also depresses me for the future of Gloucester. I agree with the statement above that Inn the Round would have been an excellent addition to the city’s real ale scene.

A micro pub is so named not just because it is small, but because it sells exclusively cask-conditioned beers from small micro breweries. They don’t sell spirits or alcopops and they shun the big breweries.

Micro pubs in other cities have proved very popular and with its location near the Quays, Inn the Round could have not only thrived for itself, it could also have perhaps tempted people out into Southgate Street to the benefit of existing pubs such as the Nelson, Tall Ships and Whitesmiths. It could have played a role in regenerating a very run down part of the city which should be forming a much-needed link between the Quays and the city centre.

I have no particular insight into how this whole thing has played out, and I am in no way doubting that City Council did everything correctly in enforcing the planning regulations, but I don’t think that is enough.

At the moment the Quays are doing very well at attracting restaurants, but they are all the same old franchise places that you find everywhere. As the city’s regeneration continues, with plans for Blackfriars just announced, we need to ensure that Gloucester retains its individuality.

For that to happen we need to actively encourage small independent businesses. They need support, both practical and maybe even financial, to enable them to create something interesting and unique for the city.

The alternative is that Gloucester just becomes another boring ‘any town UK’ and I think it deserves better.

(I wrote this article for the Gloucester Citizen and it was published last Friday 30 May)

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About Darrel Kirby

I am what I am.
This entry was posted in Gloucester, Pubs & Drinking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Just Another Anytown UK?

  1. Anita says:

    Here here! What is wrong with those pesky planners. I have no idea what happened from their point of view, but it is a massive shame if small businesses can’t break through. How will we attract visitors or new blood into our city, how will we make ourselves unique. So frustrating. No problems with getting planning for a big (empty) Morrisons next to Asda though, it seems…? Hmm.

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      Thanks for your comment Anita, glad we’re in agreement! The problem is, the likes of Morrisons and the big Franchise chains know how to manage the planning process, they have experts to take care of it all for them. The small independent business person has to just try to make it up as they go along and it seems they don’t get much in the way of support, help or advice.

      • Anita says:

        Sounds like a pretty short-sighted approach to planning. Which is surely the opposite of what planning is all about. I feel a campaign coming on! Enjoying your first book by the way – The Story of Gloucester. Every local should read it, fascinating stuff. They should be teaching it in schools, it would help kids to feel proud of their city. Feel a bit robbed that I am only starting to appreciate our history in my adult life. Gloucester is pretty fantastic when you look more closely.

  2. Pingback: So That Was May 2014… | Darrel Kirby's Blog

  3. Rob says:

    This was very disappointing news to hear, i too was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately I think this is more the case that they were a little naive as to how much their set up costs were going to be. Don’t forget they did actually get planning permission. It probably is a case that they didn’t get the advice they needed in the first instance. There is however cheap or free planning advice out there, the Council offer a service, Planning Aid etc.

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      It would be inappropriate for me to get into the details, but as I understand it planning permission was granted, but the planning regs that had to be met were prohibitive – not least because the pre-requisite number of toilets would have left hardly any bar space!

  4. Darrel Kirby says:

    Thanks Anita, I feel the same: I hated history at school and was taught nothing about Gloucester. Once I started exploring the fascinating history on our door-step I couldn’t get enough.

  5. Pingback: So That Was June 2014…. | Darrel Kirby's Blog

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