Pub chain claims city boozer could shut if garden revamp is cancelled

The Oak Tree, formerly the Maid Marion, now open after it's refurbishment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Oak Tree on Ipswich Road is hoping to revamp its garden - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

A pub on the edge of the city could be at risk of closure if plans to revamp its garden area are not approved, its chain has warned.

The Oak Tree, in Ipswich Road, has lodged a bid with the city council to carry out improvements to its outdoor seating offering.

A wooden pergola, timber booth seating and lighting have all been included in the vision, which the pub's owners hope will offset a downturn in trade suffered as a result of the Covid pandemic.

The pub's is owned by the Stonegate Group, which is also responsible for a number of the city's other boozers.

And papers submitted on the company's behalf say it is hoped the move can be a shot in the arm for the pub's trade, which has suffered during the pandemic.

They say: "During the continuing difficult economic climate, the application has suffered from lost revenue and the proposed garden refurbishment scheme has been designed as a key element of the applicant's investment into improving customer facilities.

"It is important that the site enhances, updates and improves upon its customer offer and attraction, otherwise the site could continue to suffer serious detrimental effects on the ability to attract customers."

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The papers add that the revamp could be pivotal in securing the pub's future and that if sales continue to drop the jobs of people working there could be at risk.

They claim that if the put is not able to "enhance, update and improve" then it would be "to the detriment of the continued viability of the public house".

But is hoped that by improving what the pub can offer outdoors, this risk would be significantly lessened.

The papers add: "The importance of outdoor facilities has become only too apparent throughout the Covid pandemic and the consequential restrictions on the operation and trading of the hospitality and leisure sector.

"Many customers are choosing, as preference and regardless of any on-going legal restrictions, to use external seating facilities as they feel more comfortable, safe and more willing to patronise hospitality and leisure businesses through doing so."

Norwich City Council is due to consider the plans in due course.