Ten months since closing the pub, the Dyke’s owners have applied for planning permission to convert the building into a combination of retail, flats and a bar or small pubOn the face of it, this might seem like success for the Save The Dyke Pub campaign.

So why aren’t we jumping for joy?

Firstly, the size of the pub is troubling us. To make money in the pub game these days, you need to get bums on seats between Thursday and Sunday, eating and drinking. The smoking ban, a marked trend towards drinking at home midweek (the real cost of that cheap cava: fewer pubs in the community) and the changing demographic of pub-goers from the drinking men (and some women) of the 80s and 90s to more food-oriented families and millennials mean the Monday – Wednesday trade is very quiet. Pubs make their money at weekends, and to do that they need to cram the punters in. The smaller the pub, the fewer punters you can fit in, and the quicker you need to get them out of the door to make room for more food and drink orders.

Set up to fail

The current plan locates a bar in the back section of the pub on a much, much smaller footprint than the original, and smaller too than the retail space. We are worried this pub isn’t big enough to turn a long-term profit, and will fail… leaving the door open for another shop or flat. This tactic – the ‘trojan horse’ – has been deployed quite deliberately by some developers around the country who, realising their initial development plans are too ambitious for a local community, have offered what seems like a friendly compromise, only to either never open the half-pub they have permission for, or to allow it to fail.

Secondly, the location of the pub: the rear section of the old Dyke is dark and dingy. Although it leads to the garden, the current plans include no garden access and the owners say they won’t rule out developing the garden space in future (initial plans for two townhouses in the Dyke garden were printed in the Argus in March). Proximity to the new flats may cause a noise nuisance (something that has shut down several historic pubs in recent years, including Brighton’s Blind Tiger). No garden means smokers huddling on the narrow pavement outside, too. Not an inviting place for a pint.

Community resource needed

Thirdly, the community: Prestonville, Porthall and beyond are thriving, affluent communities. There are multiple development projects and planning permissions within a few yards of the Dyke. The park has a new outdoor theatre, and there are many schools (PTFA drinks, anyone?) and businesses nearby. Growing communities need more services like shops, cafes and pubs, not less of them – and we need a large area for family and friends to meet (and eat!). Places like pubs, halls, theatres and other leisure facilities help to build trust, inclusion and ‘social capital’, that elusive community resource that shows itself in our bonds, networks and willingness to get involved.

Most of all, though, we see the pub as a community asset, one worth safeguarding. There are lots of ways a smaller or different pub could work on the site, combined with other enterprise or residential space, but with the location, size and woeful lack of outdoor space we’re not convinced by the current plans. We want a thriving, sustainable pub on the site – one that friends, families, older people and groups will want to visit time and time again. We don’t want a half-hearted half-measure, doomed to failure and guaranteed development.

How to object to the planning application

If you feel strongly about the plans to develop the Dyke Pub and Garden, you can register an objection online with Brighton & Hove City Council. See the plans and supporting documents on the Council website at http://bit.ly/BH201701917 (click Comments to leave an objection or comment – you can object without having to add any further comments).

Writing an objection to a planning proposal might seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Firstly you can register general comments with the council if you want to make an overall point about the impact on the community (or your home!) of the proposed development. For specific objections, there are lots of websites out there that can help, but the things planners will listen to will be objections that relate to local planning law.

Areas that are relevant to the current plans include:

  • reduced size of the pub (seating arrangement shown on plan is cramped, in reality there are fewer places to sit)
  • lack of daylight in the bar area
  • the smaller kitchen limits the range of food available
  • lack of outside space in the plans
  • visual and heritage impact of new windows and loss of chimney
  • the loss of a community asset for families and large groups
  • long term viability of pub due to noise issues with residents of new accommodation

We are happy to help with individual questions. Pub Planning Consultant Dale Ingram has been instructed by the Save The Dyke Group to give a detailed response to the plans, which will include a number of robust planning reasons to object – this will be published on the Planning website shortly if you would like to refer to it.   

Submit your objections and comments on the Council website at http://bit.ly/BH201701917 by Monday 10th July 2017 (scroll down for some examples of objections)

For information or help using the Planning website, send us an e-mail on: savethedyke@gmail.com or come along to our Objection Surgery at Dyke Road Park Café on Saturday 8th July between 6 and 7.30pm, where we can offer advice.

Read the full SAVE THE DYKE PUB July newsletter here.

Everyone has a right to make a living, a public house owner is no different. But these plans to increase the value of property are not within the public interest. The creation of a retail unit which is much larger than the public space, is not conducive to galvanizing community. I fear its demise will soon follow if not restored to its original purpose.

There has been a huge swell of support from the local area to try and keep this building as the pub it was and has always been. I appreciate that this is not an objection based on light or noise or any other planning matter, but sometimes you just need to stand up to the relentless march of the developer

The retail unit is clearly not a viable business and so halving what was a valuable community asset of the pub and taking the large much loved garden area for ‘display’ can only be the cynical ploy to later allow the failing retail half of the building and the garden to be also developed into more accommodation as was originally intended by the owner. this was a important part of the local community as a pub and need to be protected from pure profiteering.

The pub building & garden are protected by an ACV and these plans will irrevocably damage the historic building by altering its façade and infrastructure. It is one of Brighton’s iconic landmarks, with its own named bus stop on a famous transport route into Brighton. We must protect the historic buildings of our city as they have served the community for hundreds of years