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The White Rabbit’s pub garden planning dispute ‘resolved’ in Oxford


Oct 4, 2022

Pub manager Ed Whinney has thanked city council planning officers for helping to resolve a dispute regarding the pub’s garden furniture.

In the summer The White Rabbit in Friars Entry – one of Oxford’s few truly independent pubs – found itself in a disagreement with the council’s planning department over its bespoke garden furniture, with council officers suggesting ‘the existing furniture and fencing was unauthorised’.

The pub emailed its loyal customers, urging them to show support for the application, and at the beginning of August planning officers visited the pub and met Mr Whinney.

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Photo: Oxford Mail

He said: “We had a very constructive meeting after they came to the pub and they are happy for us to keep our parasols, heated benches, tables and garden furniture.

“They would like a different treatment when it comes to our fence so we are submitting new designs but that’s not a deal breaker – we have now submitted a new proposal and are just waiting to hear back.

“We were very happy that the planning department made the effort to engage with us in this way and that the issue has been resolved.”

Mr Whinney said when the pub emailed customers earlier this year, it received 700 messages of support.

Outlining the importance of the garden, which opened in June 2019, the pub emailed drinkers, saying: “A few years ago, after a very long, hot summer we realised we needed a proper garden to survive.

“The semi-derelict car park adjacent to the pub attracted drug takers and was an eyesore.

“We consulted with the planning department of Oxford City Council about our ideas for the bespoke oak tables and heated benches, parasols and fencing, and the planning officer informally pre-approved, via email, everything before we purchased and installed it.”

Photo: Oxford Mail

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The pub manager added that the pub remains very busy.

“There are lots of big groups from local business, students and local residents coming here for a drink, or a pizza,” he said.

“As time goes on, we are hoping to put on more events.”

Mr Whinney added that the pub has been undergoing a sustainability audit, in the hope of eventually achieving net zero carbon emissions.

He said: “One of the first steps has been to insulate the floor between our cellar and the pub, make sure the air conditioning is not working too hard, and look to get the next generation of heated benches.”

Photo: The Oxford Mail

The city council said earlier that the pub was in a conservation area and that planning officers had expressed concerns about the appearance of The White Rabbit’s pub garden.

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It added they had been liaising with the owners over the need for a more traditional set of railings and furniture.

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Andy.ffrench@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF