Concerned residents objected when they found that a restaurant in Wood End, near Kempston had applied to build a pergoda for 40 customers.
Among their concerns were that even more customers would park outside their homes in Tithe Road, to use the Cross Keys, which has a car park for 25 vehicles.
Their objections meant that Bedford Borough Council’s licensing sub-committee was called to meet on Friday to hear the case for a variation of the venue’s premises licence.
It would mean that the venue, which also trades as Tre Fratelli, would see its internal customer capacity increase to a maximum of 200. Another 25 are already allowed outside on picnic benches, the committee heard.
Frank Fender, the agent for licence holder Nicola Licciardi, said that the plan for the 9m by 7m pergoda would mean the loss of four parking spaces.
“There is no requirement to have a car park in a pub,” he said.
“Street parking is not against the law, unless it is causing an obstruction and it is not the liability of the premises licence holder.”
The committee was presented with a picture taken by an objector who alleged that all the cars were owned by customers.
Mr Fender said they were all legally parked, which was not a “public nuisance.”
“The parked cars may be an inconvenience to local residents but being inconvenienced does not constitute a public nuisance,” he said.
Mr Fender added that covid is “ripping the heart out of the hospitality sector”.
When the Fratelli family can open again they want to adapt the business to cope with regulations. They are also separately applying for planning permission from the council.
The family has run the business for 15 years, the committee heard.
None of the objectors were there to make their case, but sub-committee member Cllr Roger Rigby (Cons, Bromham and Biddenham) said: “Anybody is entitled to park there but what does happen is that people can be very noisy going back to their cars.”
He said this could cause a public nuisance late at night with people chatting and car doors slamming.
Mr Fender said that the parish council had not complained in six years, and the last complaint listed in a diary from one of the objectors happened in 2014.
“Why would it be expected to happen for the next year because they have got a pergoda?,” he said.
“The pergoda would allow for 40 people. The current licence allows for up to 25 people in an outdoor setting up until half past 10,” he said.
He said the effective increase could be 15, but the pergoda could retain noise and reduce the impact of the proposal.
The sub-committee went into a private session to decide the issue behind closed doors. The council’s policy is to make the decision public in up to five working days.
by David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter