Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery ‘disappointed’ as later opening hours blocked

An award winning South Lakes brewery bar has been left ‘very disappointed’ after the local town council objected to its plans to serve pints to customers until 11pm.

Bosses at The Royal Barn in Kirkby Lonsdale have been left gutted after Kirkby Lonsdale Town Council voted on Tuesday (November 11) to object to its plans to change opening hours until 11.45pm on weekends and Bank Holidays.

But the bar – which is run by Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery and employs dozens of staff in the town – has been keen to stress that it would be doing last orders at 11pm, 30 minutes later than its current 10.30pm cut off for drinks, giving staff enough time to clean the property before being forced to lock up at 11.45pm on the dot.

Under the new closing times, the bar would continue serving until around 10.30pm mid-week ahead of closing doors at 11pm, with a New Years Eve closure of 1am also suggested.

“We’re not like other bars in town,” managing director Stuart Taylor said, explaining that planning rules for the bar meant cleaning had to be done during its opening hours.

“They can open until midnight and clean up until 1.30am if they want to. But if we want to clean the floors this has to be done in our operating hours.

“Some times we have been forced to lock the doors and leave it in a mess because we haven’t had enough time.”

Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery’s venue The Royal Barn

Kevin Price, Town Clerk at Kirkby Lonsdale Town Council, explained that they could not support the change in plans, instead saying an 11.30pm closure time “should be reiterated”.

In September, the town council objected to the bar’s initial plans to open until 1am on weekends and midnight on week nights. These plans have now been redrafted to how they appear now. It came after the government’s planning inspectorate originally gave the bar permission to open in 2017, with hours of 8.30am until 11pm due to its closeness to one residential property.

Mr Price explained that the “situation with The Royal Barn is different” due to the nearby home.

Confusion does seems to exist over the exact planning rules in place, with Mr Price saying an 11.30pm closure would give time for staff to clear up, adding that there is “no restriction on this aspect”.

But Stuart stressed that planning rules mean that staff cannot be on site after its designated opening hours.

He said: “We’re massively disappointed because everything we do, we do to support the town. Over the years we have donations thousands for fundraisers and from day one, we’ve wanted to put Kirkby Lonsdale on the map.

“This is now the second time the town council has said no and these are the amended plans. We arranged a meeting earlier this year before lockdown and asked councillors to come along and voice their concerns but they didn’t turn up. They don’t seem to understand what we’re trying to do.

“We just want to open alongside the other pubs in town. And even then, we don’t want to open until midnight like they do.

“We have spent £40,000 on improvements just to make sure we could open in the first place. Our decibel level is low, it’s around 39 to 40, which is the equivalent of a whisper in a library. A cargo truck driving by is louder than that. When my extractor fan comes on in my bathroom its at 48.

Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery’s venue The Royal Barn

“I don’t know what else they want us to do. We’re in a commercial area of town, we’ve got a large car park next to us. There’s The Royal hotel and restaurant also next to us, a Post Office across the road.

“Coronavirus safety measures also saw us spent around £25,000 making sure the place is safe for people to come in. Everything we do is for customers and the town.”

Planning bosses at South Lakeland Borough Council (SLDC) will have the ultimate say on the new opening hours, with the council already receiving swathes of letters in support of the new opening hours for the bar.

Stuart said: “We believe we have been an asset to the town in the last three years. We’ve brought people into Kirkby. This feels like a kick in the teeth.

“Hopefully SLDC will look into it a bit deeper than the town council has. We’ve had hundreds of letters in support of us on the SLDC website.”

In a statement to Facebook, The Royal Barn said: “All the other bars in town are allowed to serve until 12am with no closing down period. We are again singled out. This is not a level playing field for businesses in these testing times.

“We find this shameful for a local company employing 25 local staff, who have always supported the town in fundraising and sponsorship of events.”

Lancs Live – Cumbria