Fined pub landlords put court case garden up for sale

John Butler in his garden.

John Butler in his garden.

First published in News
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PUB landlords who were ordered to pay £4,584 after failing to remove garden structures as ordered by the district council are now selling the lot.

John and Lynda Butler, who have been running pubs for 23 years, fought for more than three years to keep the beer garden and smoking shelter behind Butler’s Bar and Grill on the corner of Provost Street and Shaftesbury Street in Fordingbridge.

But after two appeals failed and they still didn’t remove the wooden pergolas, decking and an ornamental fish pond, they were taken to court.

West Hampshire magistrates fined Mrs Butler £2,000 plus £554 costs and a £15 victim surcharge, and Mr Butler received a £2,000 fine plus a £15 victim surcharge.

Now Mr Butler has put up signs outside the prominent pub, offering the benches, more than 100 fish and other structures for sale.

He told magistrates the strain of fighting the council to keep the smoking shelter, which was installed to combat noise nuisance after the smoking ban, had taken its toll on him and his family.

And he said the district council had been “uncaring and authoritarian” in pursuing its action against them. But the court was not swayed.

He said: “I’m just frustrated, because other pubs in town all have similar gardens surrounded by residential properties.

“Pubs are really difficult right now as it is, so not to have a garden will put the pub at a real disadvantage.”

Officers at New Forest District Council informed the Butlers they were breaching planning law in 2009, and the couple applied for retrospective planning permission for the structures, which been behind the pub since 2004 with the smoking shelter added in 2007.

But officers turned down the application and an appeal was dismissed.

The couple put in a second application, which officers refused in June 2010, saying that the area had been granted permission for a car park in 1974 and no part of it was allowed to be used as a garden.

Mr Butler said: “It’s not been used as a car park – you can’t get a car in it.

“The problem only came up after some noise problems after the smoking ban – before that the garden hadn’t even been noticed.

“And we have never had a neighbour complain about the garden.”

Officers said the use of the land as a beer garden is contrary to the Core Strategy for the New Forest district outside the national park in that “it will result in an unacceptable loss of amenity to the neighbouring residents”.

Mr Butler, 50, said: “It seems that since this became a conservation area nothing is allowed through.”

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