An anonymous complaint to Mendip District Council has allegedly forced The George at Nunney to reinstate floodlighting to front of the pub.
Mendip District Council was first contacted in October last year about changes The George made to its exterior lighting more than three years ago.
When landlord Gordon Hedges took over The George at Nunney in April 2012, he inherited a lighting scheme that included four 250W floodlights – over 1,000W in total – that were on from 4pm to midnight each day.
The brightness of these floodlights had long disturbed the pub’s neighbours. The George at Nunney is located in the heart of the conservation area around Nunney Castle.
Despite repeated requests the previous landlord, Fraser Carruth, made no changes to the lighting.
Three years ago Gordon Hedges installed subtle up and down-lighters to the front of the pub. These lighters use eco-friendly LED bulbs totalling 28W.
Now The George claims it has been ordered to switch the unwanted and unsympathetic floodlights back on.
“We had a visit and were instructed to reinstate four flood lights and remove the up/down lighters,” Hedges told Visit Nunney.
“Sadly, from today, we have no option but to remove them as it has now become an enforcement case. We will, of course, follow these instructions.”
He added that the case had left neighbours and regulars bewildered and angry. The old floodlighting was in the eyes of many inappropriate for a listed building in a conservation area.
“Based on local feedback, we did our best to find a solution that worked for us, for neighbours who objected to the floodlighting and for the environment within the restrictions of an historic building.”
“Now after one anonymous complaint our neighbours are going to have to live with the very bright and disturbing floodlights again. These lights are not environmentally-friendly at all and should have no place in a conservation area.”
The George at Nunney is a very popular local pub that employs over 30 staff, mainly young villagers. The pub and hotel have won countless awards, including Wadworth Retailer of the Year in both 2015 and 2016, at a time when many other pubs in the area have been lost for good.
The front of the pub faces 14th century Nunney Castle, ranked in the Top 10 Best British Castles by Visit Britain’s BRITAIN magazine.
The up and down-lighters currently used have not only massive reduced light pollution in the historic centre of the village, but are also very similar to those used on other historic pubs in the area, such as The Talbot in Mells and The George at Norton St Philip.
Gordon Hedges has transformed The George through hard work and investment. Subtle lighting has in his view always been one of the signature touches of the pub’s success. He told us he now feels faced with a real dilemma.
“The 1000W floodlighting is bad for the environment, makes the place look like a football stadium and lacks any of the sense of ambiance needed to attract diners,” he concluded.
Have your say
He has therefore urged clients and villagers to express their opinions on the matter.
“If you agree with us, that the front of The George as it is now is not only better for the environment, but also the village, please may we ask you email [email protected] and let him know you object to The George at Nunney re-instating the flood lights.”
“They need to know what the village want, not what one person wants.”
However, in an email to concerned villagers Tom Boyle, Mendip’s Planning Enforcement Officer dealing with the case, shed a different light on the case.
“The Enforcement Department is dealing with the issue of unauthorised works to a listed building – which is a criminal offence,” he explained.
“However, in the interests of fairness, we are trying to negotiate and work with the owner/management in order to avoid any form of formal enforcement or prosecution being necessary.”
“As it stands, the ball is firmly in the court of the management to address their unauthorised works without the need for such a course of action,” Mr Boyle added.
“The matter is not simply about the installation or reinstatement of the floodlights, that is the side product of trying to address the bigger issue.”
“The plastic conduit, exposed wiring and poly carbon signage are also not a welcome addition and are considered harmful and detrimental to the character of the listed building and neither enhance or preserve the building or positively contribute to the street scene.”
“The Local Planning Authority has a duty to protect the Heritage Assets within its jurisdiction and the course of action being taken at the local pub is no different to if it had been the castle or church in the village.”
Tom Boyle pointed out that fears relating to the brightness of the lights would be better directed towards the management of the pub.
“It is them who will be choosing and installing any replacement lighting. The Local Planning Authority suggested low wattage, LED lighting and there are a vast number of options available on the open market that can address the brightness, spread and direction of the light,” he concluded.