Landlord to close pub over lack of outdoor space - despite street’s car ban

The Ten Bells pub in St Benedicts Street. Photo: Nick Butcher

The Ten Bells pub in St Benedicts Street. Photo: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

A pub landlord has said he will close its doors due to lack of outdoor space – despite a ban on cars on its street.

Russell Evans, of Bullards. Pic: Archant

Russell Evans, of Bullards. Pic: Archant - Credit: Archant

The Ten Bells was hoping to benefit from the pedestrianisation of St Benedicts Street, which would allow businesses to place tables and chairs outside to help with social distancing.

However following discussions between the Ten Bells and Norwich City Council it was decided there is not enough scope for the pub to make use of the additional outdoor space.

Russell Evans, chairman of Bullards, which runs the pub, said: “We’ve only got a handkerchief-sized garden out the back of the Ten Bells which is usually used for smoking.

“On a busy Friday and Saturday night we might have 150 people through the pub at any one time, and we’ll have a lot less than that if we reopened.

“I’d also have to look at putting more staff on to monitor social distancing, and I just don’t think it will be possible for me to break even. If it was possible for me to have chairs outside the door it might be a different story but unfortunately it’s not.”

MORE: ‘Now I can sleep at night’: Businesses’ joy at city centre car ban

Mr Evans said the lease was due to run out in August, and that he will not be renewing.

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“We’re going to focus on our offering at our other site, Crystal House, instead,” he said.

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said: “A licensing officer from Norwich City Council contacted local businesses on how they can make use of the new space. The Ten Bells and the licensing officer went over the details and licensing didn’t feel there was any scope for that space to be used by the Ten Bells.”

Richard Bainbridge, chef at Benedicts, has also said using potential outdoor space is not viable.

He said: “Because of disabled access routes the closest available space for us would be about 50 metres from our front door. I just wouldn’t be able to staff and monitor it, and given how busy we’ve been with takeaway orders we’d rather focus on that.

“It does bode well for the future of the city though that we’re having this test run ahead of future conversations.”

The Ten Bells was once home to Bullards gin distillery, but that has been moved to Crystal House.