Neil Simpson: More bars will force residents out

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As plans are unveiled for a new superpub on Rose Street, Neil Simpson warns that yet another bar will force residents out

A planning application to convert the Charlotte Baptist Chapel on Rose Street to a 900 capacity superpub has prompted me to reflect on the different futures at stake for the street.

The unremarkable stair doors between the shop and pub frontages, especially at the west end of Rose Street, give way to dozens of flats, 75 in the block leading on to Charlotte Square. I live here and have been watching and listening to passersby for more than two decades.

Unsurprisingly, the resident-led opposition campaign, including perceptive businesses, sees a huge increase in drink-fuelled antisocial behaviour, noise, nuisance and the day-to-day clatter of superpub- scale keg delivery, bin and bottle uplift. Fourteen times the size of the traditional pub across the lane, I can’t think of a similar capacity city drinking destination. We will face a regular flow of inebriated clientele queuing, smoking and exiting the premises long into the night. The likely result is that our toughened skins will crack and we will abandon the street.

Supporters of a drinking HQ at this location will argue the loss of residents is acceptable collateral damage to the city centre’s role as a regional retail and leisure destination. This short-sighted view forgets that the milieu of small-scale pubs, cafes and shops is unique and marks its local distinctiveness. More importantly, there is a failure to understand the value that residents offer to the mix of activity and lifestyles the city has to offer, let alone our policing role as the city’s “eyes on the street”.

I take confidence from the city’s planning policy which, in theory, checks high concentrations of pubs and activity which impact on residents and I can’t see how the planners or the planning committee could support this application. Anything else would be a clarion call for residents to clear out and would result in a damaged city centre.

Neil Simpson is an architect and aspires to live on Rose Street for another 2 decades.