Village pub fights to keep 'popular' gazebos as enforcement action begins

The White Lion Inn in Llanelian wants to keep two gazebos up for another three years
The White Lion Inn in Llanelian wants to keep two gazebos up for another three years -Credit:Conwy County Council

A village pub says gazebos erected during the Covid pandemic are vital to its business after enforcement action began to take them down. The White Lion Inn, Llanelian, has applied to Conwy County Council’s planning department seeking permission to keep the two gazebos up for another three years.

Applicant Nina Cole wants to retain the gazebos at the Llanelian Road pub on the 60 sq metre site while considering how she might extend the listed building at some point in the future. The pub said the two structures were erected in April 2021 so customers could enjoy a drink during the height of the pandemic, a particularly difficult time for the hospitality sector.

The pub claimed it was assured in December 2020 by Conwy Council that it didn’t need planning permission for a non-permanent structure. But according to planning documents, the local authority contacted the applicant in August 2023, notifying pub managers that retrospective planning consent was needed due to the length of time the gazebos had remained in place.

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A planning statement explained: “The application is submitted following a live planning enforcement investigation by Conwy County Council. The structures were erected in April 2021 to provide a safe outdoor area for customers to utilise during the Covid-19 pandemic and comply with the social distancing guidelines brought about as a result.”

The letter outlined how the gazebos allowed the pub to continue during a time when the "hospitality sector was particularly under threat". It added: “The development is well-liked by both the local and tourist population and now forms an integral part of the facilities offered at The White Lion.”

The pub said the gazebos offer anxious customers the choice to remain outdoors as well as providing additional space during busy periods. In the letter to the council, the pub cited statistics from the Welsh Beer and Pub Association showing Wales lost 63 pubs in 2023, resulting in the loss of more than 770 jobs. North Wales Live has a WhatsApp community group where you can get the latest stories delivered straight to your phone

“The structures were brought about almost as a lifeline for the pub during the incredibly challenging global pandemic and have grown to become a popular addition and welcome expansion to the establishment,” the statement read. "The pavilions are used by customers who are still concerned about going indoors due to various health reasons or disabilities which make them vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.

“The structures are also used by dog owners, and they provide a space for overfill on busy days, especially on Sundays.” The statement added: “Economically, times are challenging, and the development has helped to ensure the longevity of the established local business.”

Several residents have written to Conwy Councilin support of the planning application. The application is likely to be debated by councillors at a future planning committee meeting at Conwy’s Bodlondeb HQ. Sign up for the North Wales Live newsletter sent twice daily to your inbox

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