Sep 28 2011 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Wednesday
PLANS to create a Wetherspoon's pub in Stirling city centre moved a stage further yesterday (Tuesday) despite a raft of objections.
Stirling Council’s planning panel approved a change of use application submitted by the nationwide chain to convert the former tax offices in Spittal Street.
Officers told the meeting that 21 objections had been submitted since the £1 million project, said to have a capacity for up to 800 customers, first came to light.
Concerns had been expressed by local residents, the Mercat Cross and City Centre and Kings Park community councils and nearby businesses.
But councillors were told that JD Wetherspoons’ blueprint adhered to the local development plan and that the majority of reservations, particularly the perceived potential for an increase in anti-social behaviour, lay outwith the planning panel’s remit.
Councillor Jim Thomson, who represents the city centre, said that the local authority would be in danger of “missing a trick” if conditions were not imposed to give the long-mothballed site a new lease of life.
And he also stressed the importance of ensuring the outdoor beer garden included in the drawings is not visible from nearby Allan’s Primary School.
“I accept that children walking through the city centre will have to pass pubs in the morning and at lunchtime but at the moment this beer garden can be seen from the playground,” Cllr Thomson said.
Fellow ward member Graham Reed asked for the application to be deferred to allow panel members to take a closer look at the former HMRC site. His request was narrowly defeated, as chairman Alasdair MacPherson used his casting vote to allow the meeting to progress.
Questions also centred around whether or not the road outside the premises is wide enough to accommodate a loading bay. Staff from the council’s roads department assured the panel that there is sufficient room.
Cllr MacPherson said he was happy to give the plans the green light as long as a string of conditions were met.
Wetherspoons was instructed to include improvements to a perimeter wall off Spittal Street, remove or box off ventilation equipment outside and ensure any external decoration and lighting is in keeping with premises in the area.
The company still needs approval from the region’s licensing board before any new pub is opened.