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Havering's first micropub Upminster TapRoom wins appeal to open permanently

PUBLISHED: 13:59 19 January 2016 | UPDATED: 16:14 19 January 2016

Co-owners Bob Knowles and Caroline Sheldon

Co-owners Bob Knowles and Caroline Sheldon

Archant

It's official - The Upminster TapRoom is Havering's first micropub after winning a year-long battle to open permanently.

Bob Knowles checks beer for clarity in the keg roomBob Knowles checks beer for clarity in the keg room

Caroline Sheldon and Bob Knowles, owners of the Sunnyside Gardens venue, were told this morning their appeal against a planning decision was successful.

It ends a difficult year for the couple, who had plans rejected in May against popular opinion and have been embroiled in a dispute with a small group of residents and councillors.

“We have had this building over a year,” said Bob. “And we’ve been fighting decisions since May when planning decided to chuck it out spuriously.

“It’s been the most stressful thing that we have been through, and through no fault of our own. It’s affected us quite a bit and I blame a number of councillors for that.

The TapRoom micropub in Upminster also serves light food and snacksThe TapRoom micropub in Upminster also serves light food and snacks

“Ron Ower is barred – he won’t be getting in there.”

Cllr Ower called in the original planning application over concerns about the noise and parking issues. The plans were unanimously rejected by councillors, despite officers recommending them for approval.

Since November, the pub has been open on a temporary licence as a cafe, serving locally-sourced produce.

Open daily from 11am-11pm, it specialises in real ale from micro breweries as well as cider, mead and wine.

There is no TV, no music and a £1 fine for anyone caught using their phone. And it is now officially a micropub.

Caroline said: “We’ll have a bit of a party. It’s been a very distressing year – we knew what we were doing was right.

“We’d like to thank the people of Havering who have been absolutely amazing.”

A Recorder poll last summer found 74 per cent of the 261 respondents were in favour of the pub, and 262 people signed a petition supporting it.

More than 100 people turned up at the pub in August for what was meant to be its opening. The couple were granted a Temporary Events Notice to open on weekends while the appeal was heard – but the council blocked it at the last minute.

Cllr Ower denied he and fellow councillors had campaigned against the pub.

“We didn’t campaign against it, we just would have preferred it if they were in the centre of the town,” he said.

“I hope they’ll be good neighbours.”

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