BLACK BULL COBBLES CONTROVERSY
A planning application (ref. 13F/2764) has been submitted to use the cobbled forecourt of the Black Bull as an outdoor seating/drinking/eating area: "to be used between 11.30-22.00 hours Sunday to Wednesday and 11.30-00.00 hours Thursday to Saturday".
The application has been submitted because last summer, when tables and benches were put on the cobbles for the first time in many years, there were complaints from local residents about the noise and other nuisance that resulted. Mitchells & Butlers were told by the City Council to remove the tables from the forecourt, and to submit a planning application if they wanted to reinstate them.
The Black Bull cobbles are the subject of a long-running saga, in which the Gateacre Society has been involved since 1993. In that year the original cobbles were lifted by the pub's then owners (Tetley Pub Co/Allied Domecq) for 'renovation', but unfortunately were put back 'upside down' (i.e. with the stones' pointed sides rather than flat sides facing upwards). This made them uncomfortable and hazardous to walk on. We tried to persuade the owners to remedy the situation, but they refused. We tried to persuade the Council to take enforcement action, but they declined.
Since that time, we have - in association with the Friends of Gateacre - had discussions with the pub's owners and managers about the unsightly state of the cobbles and the need for weed control etc. At a meeting in April 2012, M&B's area manager said that she would explore the possibility of her company re-laying the cobbles 'correctly' in return for being allowed to obtain a commercial benefit from it (e.g. putting tables and umbrellas there for customers' use during the summer). Obviously, we shall be making reference to this offer when we formulate our own response to the current planning application. It is likely that we shall object to the granting of planning permission UNLESS very stringent conditions are attached regarding the months and hours of operation, the number and design of the tables, the restoration (and maintenance) of the cobbled surface, and its keeping free of litter, glass and weeds.
Planning permission is needed because the cobbles do not form part of the Black Bull's registered title, i.e. they are not legally the property of M&B. We understand that a Highway Licence will also be needed. Such licences are only granted for temporary periods - e.g. 6, 12 or 24 months - so there is an opportunity to prevent the use continuing if problems of anti-social behaviour, etc., emerge in the future.
The closing date for comments on Planning Application 13F/2764 is 30th January. All members and local residents are encouraged to make their views known. Either go to the Council's website - via http://bit.ly/LCC13F2764 - or write to Caroline Maher, Development Control Division, Liverpool City Council, Municipal Buildings, Dale Street, Liverpool L2 2DH.