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The dome at the rear of City Bar, St Thomas

City Bar pub dome must come dome, says planning inspector

A TRANSLUCENT dome at the rear of a Swansea pub will have to be dismantled, a planning inspector has said.

The owners of City Bar, St Thomas, had been served with an enforcement notice by Swansea Council more than a year ago requiring them to take down the unauthorised structure within two months.

There was a right to appeal, which was taken up by owner Ernest Joyce, of City Eat Drink Enjoy Ltd.

Mr Joyce set out to prove that the dome, which could host up to 70 people, had been substantially completed for a period of four years before the notice was issued. Enforcement action, according to planning law, can’t be taken after four years.

There was an 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.

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

Mr Joyce said parts of the timber-framed 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 felt that three months would be sufficient.

The lengthy planning dispute had involved a petition at one stage in support of the dome, which was signed by more than 600 people.

Speaking in 2017, joint City Bar owner Marc Strydom said around £175,000 had been invested in the premises – formerly The Windsor Arms – to make it a more attractive destination.

“You have to offer more than a drinking hole these days,” said Mr Strydom at the time. “We’ve got a small restaurant, and we want somewhere that is a bespoke function area.”

Although 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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