A PUB floral feature has got conservationists in a flap.

The White Hart in St Andrew’s Road, Old Headington, is owned by brewer Everards and last year won CAMRA’s city pub of the year award.

But the size of its pergola - a garden frame designed to be covered in plants - has left the Friends of Old Headington feeling concerned.

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The group said residents have expressed opposition to the pub’s application to the city council for planning permission to extend the pergola, due to issues including noise and the threat of increased car parking.

The pub, meanwhile, says the pergola has been there for 15 years and only a tiny minority of neighbours have concerns.

Howard Stanbury, secretary of the Friends of Old Headington, has written to planners to object to the pub’s retrospective application regarding the pergola.

The friends’ group said the history to this proposal was complex.

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Mr Stanbury added; “It is still unfortunate that we find ourselves in a position where a structure has been built on a listed building that does not appear to comply with the approval that was granted in 2007.

“That approval followed an earlier submission that was for a much larger structure.

“The earlier proposal was withdrawn and after consultation a smaller more appropriate structure was approved. However, what was built was larger - not as large as the first proposal, but significantly bigger than what was approved.

Last year a proposal was submitted and withdrawn that sought to obtain retrospective approval for the built structure.”

Mr Stanbury added that the current proposal sought approval for a pergola that is much larger than the original proposed structure as well as being larger than that in the withdrawn application from 2018.


He said: “We regret that inspection and enforcement appears not to have followed the development - it

would have saved a lot of trouble for all parties.

The Friends’ group said it was important that conditions applied to listed building planning applications were followed, inspected, and enforced where necessary.

Mr Stanbury added: “Residents report noise and other disturbances that arise from late use of the garden and pergola area, and the original approval sought to reach a balance between the interests of the pub owners and users and nearby residents.

“Last year we said ‘We would recommend taking action to adjust the existing pergola so that its size, form, and location better matches the original approved structure from 2007, and also that other solutions are explored that would mitigate the problems that residents experience.’

Dan Smaje, landlord of The White Hart, said: "Unfortunately the ‘Friends of Old Headington’ are yet again misinformed. The existing Pergola does have planning permission and we have applied to extend it to improve our customers experience.

"With regards to noise, we regularly ask the licensing authority to come in and check that we are adhering to our license which we have passed every time.  It’s a shame that we have one neighbour who seems to think that his 12 years residency supersedes the 450 years that The White Hart has been here. 

"We are striving to run the best local village pub possible for the whole community and are deeply saddened that the ‘Friends of Old Headington’ have never supported us in the 11 years we have been here."

The pub’s history dates back to the 17th century and is popular with residents and hospital staff.

Landlords said they were thrilled to be praised by real ale campaigners CAMRA.