Changes at Portsmouth pub raise more fears over drink culture

Owens Bar in Palmerston Road precinct, Southsea. 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (132450-04)
Owens Bar in Palmerston Road precinct, Southsea. 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (132450-04)
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A PUB has been given the go-ahead to make changes – despite concerns that it will fuel more of a drinking culture in a troubled pedestrian zone.

Owens in Palmerston Road, Southsea has been told by Portsmouth City Council it can make its front windows bigger in a bid to attract more customers.

Objections were raised at a city council meeting over the plans – which will see some of the windows extended down to ground level – in the street’s southern precinct.

Residents fear the move could encourage even more drinkers and trouble in the area.

Neighbouring businesses in the past have aired grievances about crime, drunken behaviour and people urinating and stubbing out cigarettes in concrete planters along the road.

Local resident Diana Ross-Richards was furious.

‘It’s awful there on a Friday and Saturday night, you can’t have your windows open because of the noise, and men and women fight,’ she said.

‘There is a lot of drunkenness.

‘The language sometimes is horrible and the attitude to women passing by is totally unacceptable.’

She said the pub looks fine as it is and doesn’t need amendments.

Lib Dem councillor Michael Andrewes, who represents the area, said the plans would have a detrimental effect on local people.

‘The residents suffer from the night-time economy, and it’s clear that this will have a major impact,’ he said.

‘Owens operates late at night and these are times when people in the area are trying to get to sleep and have some peace and quiet.’

Owens has previously applied to get its windows turned into sliding doors.

However that application was rejected by councillors following numerous complaints.

A spokesman for the pub said the changes were part of its bid to become more upmarket and create a better atmosphere.

Ward councillor Lib Dem Hugh Mason said: ‘Owens is a music bar and that can be noisy and with sport also being watched in the bar, that can get rather loud at times.’

But Cllr Ken Ellcome, sitting on the planning committee, said the issue of noise was a ‘non-event’ and the new windows wouldn’t contribute any more to existing issues of noise.

He also said it was an improvement on the previous application.

Lindsey Brown, manager of Owens, said it meant the pub could move forward.

‘It’s great news – it’s great news for the street and great news for us,’ she said.