Opinion: 'Ostrich Inn is a cultural gem and needs to be supported,' writes Peterborough MP Paul Bristow

MP Paul Bristow talks concerns over the new Beales site in his latest Westminster Life column for the Peterborough Telegraph.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 3:12 pm

The Ostrich Inn isn’t just any local pub. For a start, it’s the oldest purpose-built public house in Peterborough city centre and the CAMRA City Pub of the Year 2022.

It was built on North Street in 1837. It’s a pub that I first visited as a teenager, when it was called Bogarts. It’s been hosting live music for even longer.

In fact, it’s excellent landlord and owner tells me that the live music has been running for 75 years. The gigs at the Ostrich each Thursday to Sunday are an important part of Peterborough’s cultural offer.

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The award wining live music Ostrich Inn, Peterborough, which has been given a 'low' noise impact rating in a survey for a nearby residential development.

It’s tucked away, but a real gem. This location is one reason for the Ostrich Inn being able to host everything from folk music to full rock and DIY punk bands. It doesn’t affect many neighbours.

The pub faces a car park and the former Beales department store. Now that’s all set to change.

I support the redevelopment of the Beales site in principle, but the current plans are worrying. They would put residential flats and roof terraces directly opposite the Ostrich.

If you know a little about the planning system, you might think, ‘What’s the problem? The developer will need to show that they have measured and then mitigated for any noise.’ If you know a bit more about the planning system, you’ll wonder how the Noise Impact Assessment only found a tiny level of noise from loud music, requiring no mitigation or special features in the design.

And if you know a lot – or you’re just a cynic – you might guess that the noise readings were carried out on a night when the live music was just a guy on a guitar, accompanied by a keyboard.

When the Ostrich Inn got someone to measure one of their louder acts, the noise readings were ten times higher than those in the official planning application. If the flats are built with bedrooms directly opposite, without acoustic treatment, there will be a problem.

As things stand, the plans appear wholly inadequate. The current planning application endangers the future of this much-loved live music venue. Once built, it would be too late to prevent action against the Ostrich Inn.

This would do significant harm to the city’s cultural life and threaten the survival of the pub itself.

I would hate for the Ostrich to be anything other than it is, which is why I’m backing their efforts for a rethink. The plans need to change and incorporate measures to shield future residents from any and all loud music.

That’s entirely possible. It’s just more expensive and involves a redesign. I have written to the agents behind the application, seeking an urgent meeting.

I have also written to Peterborough City Council, objecting to application 22/00779/FUL. You can object too.

It would be desperately sad if permission for regeneration were refused because of a noise issue, but it would be worse to lose this great Peterborough institution.

The plans should change, not the pub.