Fringe Box



Star Inn Appeals Noise Abatement Notice that ‘Will Kill’ the Historic Pub

Published on: 19 Oct, 2018
Updated on: 19 Oct, 2018

The Star Inn, Quarry Street

By Will Parsons

An appeal is being made against a noise abatement notice served by Guildford Borough Council (GBC) on the historic pub, The Star Inn. The notice effectively bans live performances at the venue.

As reported yesterday, Council Leader Paul Spooner (Con, Ash South & Tongham) is under investigation for his support of the pub.

The notice was issued this week after property developer Neil Young complained to GBC about noise coming from the ‘Back Room’ venue at the pub in May. The developer had recently finished converting old office space near the pub into flats.

The incident is part of a long-standing issue between the developer and the pub, which first arose five years ago, when Neil Young applied for planning permission to turn offices on Mill Lane into residential properties. At the time, Shepherd Neame, the brewery company that owns the pub, objected on the basis that the proposed flats were close to the Star Inn’s live venue and so could lead to a noise complaint.

The back room at The Star Inn where music performances are given.

Planning permission was nonetheless granted, leading to the noise complaint in May after completion of the flats.

The Star has 56 days to comply with the noise abatement notice. Pub managers say this means they will have to cease hosting live acts completely from December 9.

Yesterday, October 18, the pub confirmed that it intends to challenge the notice, after receiving legal counsel that confirmed there are sufficient grounds to launch an appeal.

The back of one of the properties in Mill Lane abuts the pub just yards from where live music is performed.

Manager of The Star, Georgina Baker, said of the notice: “This is stupid beyond words. Thousands of people have enjoyed music here for decades but one property developer is allowed to end all that because it interferes with his money-making scheme.

“We’re a business too, and one from which many more people benefit, and we were here first, so why is his short-term financial gain seen to be more important than our established and much-loved venue?

“This will kill our business, leading to job losses as well as the loss to the community of a vital cultural asset. I can’t understand it.”

A press release from The Star said that, while Cllr Paul Spooner had publicly stated his support for the pub back in May, “Ironically he has been silent ever since, as the Star will be if the council has its way,” a claim the councillor rejects.

However, in a statement, Cllr Spooner reaffirmed his support for The Star.

He said: “I am very disappointed that Officers at Guildford Borough Council have now issued a noise abatement notice to the operators of the Star Inn, Guildford.

“My position remains unchanged. I strongly believe that it is absurd that the law allows for a centuries-old live music venue to be under pressure due to recent permitted development nearby. That said, I have to accept that Officers are following due process.

“I am reassured that the lead member for licensing is doing all he can to resolve the situation. I know that amongst politicians from all major parties there remains strong support for the Star Inn.

“I do take issue with the statement from the Star Inn that I have been silent on the issue since May. Both the leader of the opposition and I visited the Star Inn and anyone that follows me on social media will be aware of the supportive comments from me towards The Star Inn.”

Cllr Spooner also revealed on Wednesday, October 17, that he is under investigation by GBC for his support for The Star. He claimed that the investigation was prompted by a complaint that he is “biased” towards the pub.

When asked by The Guildford Dragon NEWS to give more details about the investigation, Cllr Spooner said he was advised by the GBC Monitoring Officer that he is unable to reveal details about the investigation while it is being carried out. He added that the investigation “has not changed my position in any way”.

The Guildford Dragon NEWS understands that the investigation has been launched following a complaint from the property developer in the case, Neil Young.

In a comment on a Guildford Dragon article, Cllr Colin Cross (Lib Dem, Ripley, Wisley and Ockham) said: “On this occasion, Cllr Spooner gets my full support for his views and if having a strong opinion on a topic leaves councillors open to accusations of bias I’m not sure where that might lead to, surely not a never-ending string of formal investigations?”

The investigation adds further pressure to Cllr Spooner, who is in troubled waters over various planning issues. But in this instance, Cllr Spooner seems to be at the head of a popular campaign.

A petition addressed to Cllr Spooner, set up earlier this year, after Shepherd Neame received notice that GBC was drafting a noise abatement notice. Has been signed by over 23,000 people.

A Guildford Labour Party Parliamentary Spokesperson has also confirmed the Guildford Labour Party’s ongoing support for The Star in a statement to the Guildford Dragon.

They said: “The Guildford Labour Party which for decades has been a great supporter of the performing arts in Guildford are saddened and disappointed with the latest turn of events. Though not unexpected, the Star was given clear assurances by Paul Spooner the council leader himself that the noise abatement notice would not be issued.

“GBC should be doing everything in its power to salvage what they can from this situation.  The views of the people of Guildford were made perfectly plain by the astonishing response to the Save The Star petition earlier this year.

“We watch with interest what steps the council leader will now take to make good on his promises and we continue to offer our full support to the venue in their ongoing struggle.”

See: Council Leader ‘Under Investigation’ for Backing Star Inn Over Live Music Noise


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Responses to Star Inn Appeals Noise Abatement Notice that ‘Will Kill’ the Historic Pub

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    October 19, 2018 at 10:04 am

    I believe the developer, Mr Young, acted in full knowledge of the adjacent venue. He should withdraw any complaint and install proper noise insulation into his properties. Or is he finding it difficult to sell properties for some other reason and is using this to justify the sales price?

    On this occasion, Cllr Spooner has my support.

  2. Martin Elliott Reply

    October 19, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    Cllr Paul Spooner should have nothing to worry about with the complaint.

    Of course, a councillor can express an opinion. He can obviously express a preference one way or another, and even vote in support. If that’s bias, so what? It’s officers of the council who should be neutral. If there is any bias in planning conditions concerning noise abatement, it was plainly with the developer.

    Cllr Spooner was a bit outspoken, as usual, and out of order earlier in stating no enforcement against The Star would be made. I’m sure he didn’t actually mean that and should have retracted the words.

    And now, given the record of judgement and actions following complaints from other councillors or the public, he still has nothing to worry about.

  3. Sue Fox Reply

    October 20, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Reminds me of the people who bought a house on a village green [Shamley Green] with a cricket pitch who then complained about the risk of flying cricket balls. As far as I know, cricket is still being played there.

    The developer knew full well that his project was adjacent to a music pub, if you live in a town centre it isn’t the quiet of the countryside.

    Cllr Spooner, for once, is dead right.

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