A PUB is arguing it should be allowed to keep a marquee put up when Covid restrictions were in place as there is a similar one at the Houses of Parliament.
The white tent, supported by slim steel frames, was beside the bank of the river Wye in Chepstow during the autumn of 2020 so customers from the Boat Inn would have a covered outside area to eat and drink.
The “traditional marquee” has now been compared to the marquee used as the Members Bar of the Palace of Westminster, located on the embankment between the House of Commons and the river Thames in London, in a planning application.
An application in February this year to retain the marquee sparked a row with some river users claiming the structure on the paved area restricted access to the riverbank and to the Chepstow Boat Club pontoon.
More than 200 comments were lodged with Monmouthshire County Council, with most objecting to the plan to keep the marquee, and the application was then withdrawn by the landlady of the Boat, Amanda Cooper, in June this year.
However a new application has been made on her behalf, submitted by planning agent Richard Liddell.
The application states that a meeting held with Monmouthshire County Council has established it has no objection in principle to a covered area on the riverbank but that suggestions, from the council, alternative structures such as tents should be used are described as unpractical and also at odds with the riverbank area.
Mr Liddell said the “simple geometric form of the marquee” better compliments the open space of the area named The Back around Chepstow’s Old Dry Dock in the town’s conservation area and that nearby buildings have been listed due to their “group value” with others rather than their individual character.
He said there are examples of such marquees being used “within the curtilage of listed buildings” and highlighted the one at the Commons: “The most famous marquee, although probably not recognised as such because of its low visual impact (it looks “right” in its location), is the Members Bar of the Palace of Westminster.”
The planning statement describes Westminster Palace as “probably the most photographed Grade I listed building in the country” and adds: “If a marquee is acceptable adjacent to the Palace of Westminster, then it is surely acceptable adjacent to the Boat Inn!!”
A suggested alternative such as a tent has been dismissed as unpractical and described as a trip hazard and that “sail type tented structures” at tables wouldn’t offer protection from wind and their shape would be “alien” to the “simple geometric shapes of the buildings facing the old Dry Dock”.
A petition signed by 850 people in support of retaining the marquee has also been handed into the council with the application which also states changes to the layout, to ensure there is access to the steps that lead to the riverbank, have been since the earlier application was withdrawn. It is also noted in the application there is a sign at the pontoon stating “No unauthorised access”.
Chepstow Town Council which had objected to the previous application due to the potential impact on access to the pontoon is now recommending the application is approved but Monmouthshire council’s rights of way officer has objected.
Gavin Pugh, assistant rights of way officer, said he was objecting due to the potential of the marque to “obstruct an unrecorded public right of way between the highway and the jetty” and its “negative impact” on views from the Wales Coastal Path which is around 20 metres from the marquee.