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Pub regulars fight council plan to tear down exotic outdoor dining dome

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City Bar in central Swansea invested some £175,000 into making the premises more attractive, including the construction of the glorious outdoor dome for dining and events. However, Swansea Council now wants the timber-framed structure removed, reports Wales Online.

More than 600 regulars have signed a petition to support the pub in the long-running dispute.

The pub owner Ernest Joyce, of City Eat Drink Enjoy Ltd, has set out to prove the dome, which can host up to 70 people, had been substantially completed for a period of four years before the enforcement notice was issued. Enforcement action, according to planning law, can’t be taken after four years.

The notice, which was issued more than one year ago, ordered the businessman to take down the structure within two months as the council claimed it was unathorised. 

There was agreement by all concerned that a dome was built at City Bar by April 2015, which was more than four years before the enforcement notice.

However, aerial photographs submitted by the council in 2016 showed substantial parts of the dome removed.

Mr Joyce said parts of the picturesque dome were dismantled and put back together over the years to make it better withstand extremes in temperature and rainfall.

Welsh Government-appointed planning inspector Aidan McCooey said construction work continued in 2016, prior to an internal fit-out and the dome being brought into use in 2017. He said this meant it did fall foul of the four-year enforcement rule.

“The photographic evidence, the appellant’s evidence and what I observed of the construction at the site visit, leads me to conclude that the dome was not substantially complete in December, 2015,” said his decision report.

But Mr McCooey extended the time frame to take down the dome from two months to four months.

Mr Joyce had argued that six months was more appropriate, given the backlog faced by builders due to the coronavirus pandemic. The council, controlled by the Labour Party, felt that three months would be sufficient.

Speaking in 2017, joint City Bar owner Marc Strydom said: “You have to offer more than a drinking hole these days,.

“We’ve got a small restaurant, and we want somewhere that is a bespoke function area.”

Although Mr McCooey did not refer to the petition, he noted that Mr Joyce said the dome’s removal would severely affect the Delhi Street venue’s viability, once Covid restrictions were eased. But the inspector said no evidence had been provided to substantiate this, and added: “Viability of the business is not of direct relevance to the facts of the case.”

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