A community pub struggling to survive in the wake of Covid’s lockdowns has made one last attempt to keep going by joining a local Indian restaurant.
Malta, at Harpenden’s Lower Luton Road, has joined Shahan Uddin from the newly founded disease The Cherry Trees of Wheathampsted, and offers Indian meals to eat or takeaway.
But following a complaint from a neighboring resident, they now have to apply for planning consent to sell food to a takeaway, even though the pub has been there for 120 years and cooks and sells food for decades.
This cost them £ 5,000 in fees for planning consultants, specialist reports and architectural input – money the owners could not afford to save.
A petition in support of the pub garnered 197 signatures, and owner Peter Close said: “Neighbors are complaining about the smell, the chimney at the back of the pub is eye-catching, more traffic. These people they bought their houses right next to a pub.
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“We’ve tried to work with them and there’s no resolution. If that doesn’t work this would be the end of the pub.”
Neighbor Ian Maudsley said: “I have been a customer of Malta for over 25 years and I have been cleansed from hearing that the council has made chefs apply for planning consent for the sale of food to be taken and arranged. new flue at the back of a pub.
“Fifteen people depend on this building for their work. The pubs that prepare fish and chips smell more like curry because there’s more deep fat frying. There’s one near Pickford Hill but I don’t mind because it’s part of the place I call home.
“Malta is a beautiful sociable pub, but it has really struggled over the last few years and Covid has made a bad situation worse. I encourage everyone to come and try this place. It has the best beer and wines and a wonderful atmosphere of friendship, but I can see that it needs to diversify in order to survive. “
Customer Richard East said: “Cherry is the best Indian restaurant / take away for miles around. I hope the planning permission is given and the business continues to serve the community.”
However, Southview Road residents James and Sarah Bedingfield are unhappy with the takeaway plan, claiming that The Malta is known around Harpenden as a pub drinker with a regular clientele, and is not a family-friendly environment.
“We are concerned that following consent to a formal change of use, the takeaway business could move to a larger and more suitable building similar to its previous home, leaving The Malta open for another takeaway business to move.
“This permanent change in use will mean that the use of the pub building and the lower part of Southview Road could change forever.”
Rebecca and Philip Tolson are also objecting to the appeal, citing food waste and parking concerns: “We already have large commercial waste on a public highway but now we have additional commercial waste with spoiled food content and problems all that comes with it: rodents, odors and noise.
“The lack of parking in the corner where the takeaway is now located has resulted in an increase in car parking, stopping to pick up and deliver drivers, making it difficult to maneuver the junction, a definite danger to be drawn. on a very busy road. “
Cllr Mary Maynard called in the plans: “Given the range of planning factors involved in this decision, the fact that some of them are of a qualitative nature and we need to give weight to different factors, I am calling this application whether the officials are reluctant to give and whether they are reluctant to refuse. “
Comment on the planning application on St. Albans district council website using reference 5/2021/2441.