Residents’ opposition to pub’s riverside nook takes away jobs

Three people who were expecting to return to work at the Bell and Crown on Strand on the Green this autumn will not now be employed because the pub isn’t able to use the terrace facing the river.

General Manager Fiona Sparkes and her husband Andrew Durn got planning permission in 2019 for a metal structure with a canvas awning, which they built on the back of the pub, allowing them to seat seven tables in shade, with a great riverside view.

They didn’t get planning for the glass panels which they put in at the beginning of 2020, so customers could use the terrace tables and be out of the winter weather. Strand on the Green Residents Association objected on the grounds that the structure was ugly and out of keeping with the area. LB Hounslow backed the residents group and the glass panels were taken out, leaving just the frame and the awning.

The pub of course was shut during lockdown and since reopening has had to lose about 250 covers across a week, Andrew estimates, to accommodate social distancing, in addition to revenue from drinkers at the bar. Over all the pub’s takings are down about a third on last year.

Recently the Bell and Crown has asked the residents group if they would relent and allow the glass panels to go back in for the winter, to give them more inside space. The answer from Richard Griffith, the chairman of Strand on the Green Residents Association, (SOGA) was a swift ‘no’, says Andrew.

As a result the pub is now not taking back three staff they’d planned to re-employ over the winter (seven tables equates to 14 shifts a week, or three people). Current staff who have been waiting on the tables over the past few weeks were making about £35 per shift on tips.

Images above: Riverside frontage of the Bell and Crown before and after

Andrew told The Chiswick Calendar:

“I think it’s too restrictive, for something which you only see when you walk past. You can’t see it from any of the residents’ living rooms. It just makes it nice and cosy inside and looking to the future, we need to use that area for the pub to be viable”.

When the residents group objected, 80 people sent letters to the council complaining .

“They have 220 – 230 members, so that means two thirds of their members either weren’t bothered or actually like to be able to sit by the riverside out of the cold to eat”.

The pub has 18 tables in the bar, but of course no one wants to sit outside in the elements to eat in winter, except on the occasional bright, sunny day. Andrew and Fiona had hoped to make the case to the pub owners Fuller’s to make a two story permanent extension, for which they say they already have planning permission which has been agreed with SOGA. But that would cost a million pounds which no one would consider investing at the moment.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: London’s lockdown rules stay the same for now, (13 October 2020)

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