It will be a great shame if Barearts is soon forced to close its doors

READERS will be familiar with the on-going debate over Sainsbury’s application to build a supermarket on Halifax Road, but may be unaware of a planning dispute affecting existing Todmorden business Barearts on Rochdale Road.

This was originally opened as an off-licence to sell beer brewed by the owner and an art gallery to display the work of his wife. A licence was subseuqently granted to enable customers to sit and sample beers with a view to purchasing for home consumption.

The atmosphere was such that people tended to linger however and the licence was again extended to include the sale of beer to be consumed on as well as off the premises and to allow the performance of acoustic music.

Unfortunately Calderdale Council’s planning department (the same council that approved the licence) notified the owners Trevor and Kath Cook last Christmas Eve that they did not have planning permission for a bar and have since turned down a retrospective planning application as well as moves to revert to the original “sample only” status and seem bent on closure.

I do not pretend to understand all the detail of the planning dispute but I do know that the Cooks spent a considerable amount sound-proofing the ceiling of their premises in order to reduce the noise disturbance to the tenants living above and in order to be granted the latest licence, and that noise nuisance to that tenant is the main objection cited by the planning department.

I also believe that only one complaint was received when the Cooks applied for the latest licence and that they hold over 300 letters of support for their application.

As one of the musicians who play regularly at Barearts, I can say that if it does close it will be sorely missed by the numerous musicians who are welcomed there and find it increasingly difficult to find other places to play, by the people who have enjoyed listening, by any number of local groups who have meetings there or been supported by special brews, pictures and events.

The owners are always on site, they employ a number of well-trained young staff and the atmosphere is relaxed and pleasant with never a hint of trouble. The music and service always stops by 10pm and the place is empty by 10.30pm.

If anyone reading this has any experience of dealing with planning regulations or feels they could help any way, I am sure the Cooks would be delighted to hear from them either at the shop or via their website barearts.com.

Todmorden Town Council have expressed their support and one of the Todmorden representatives on Calderdale Council is working on their behalf. They presumably believe, as I do, that closure of Barearts would be a great loss for the town.

Susan Rebecchi, Wellfield

Terrace, Todmorden.