Wed, 31 Jan 2018
An artist’s impression of what the new Walkabout bar would look like in Cheap Street
IT is fair to say plans to rebrand Newbury’s The Diamond Tap pub into Australian-themed sports bar, Walkabout, did not go down well with Newbury Town Council’s planning and highways committee.
At a meeting last week, councillors objected to an application to erect the chain's branding in blue and yellow signage outside of the pub in Cheap Street, calling it “garish”, “cheap” and “out-of-keeping”.
Stonegate Pub Company, which bought The Diamond Tap from JD Wetherspoon in September last year, revealed the plans to turn the pub into a Walkabout when submitting the planning application.
Discussing the plans with fellow committee members, Miles Evans (Con, Victoria) said: “There are two letters of objection to this application.
“One describes this new fascia as garish and cheap, the other describes it as out of keeping – both of which I would entirely agree with."
He said the committee should welcome the fact that the venue will be retained as a bar pointing to the failed Bar Sport, which closed down one year after opening and is now set to become a mixed retail and residential development.
Mr Evans added: “However, The Diamond Tap sign was, I thought, quite sympathetic to the conservation area, and Stonegate, who own the chain also own the Slug and Lettuce and have done a perfectly good job on that side of the road.
“But this garish blue and yellow sign – I’m going to have to object.”
Jeff Beck (Con, Clay Hill) agreed with his fellow councillor, saying: “I noticed it before and I thought ‘my God’ – this is terrible. We can’t have this.
“The Diamond Tap was in keeping – it lends itself to the area.
“This detracts from the area. I think we should strongly object.”
Not all members were critical of the application, however, with Jeanette Clifford (Con, Northcroft) saying she approved of the signage.
“Buildings stay the same, fashions change, signs change.
“To me it communicates something about the venue – it would appeal to a certain audience and I would like to see it there.”
She added: “It shouldn’t be a question of taste. I think it’s fine.
“It won’t be there very long – what sign is?”
Elizabeth O’Keeffe (Lib Dem, Victoria), however, agreed with the majority of her colleagues while raising a further objection over the ‘misuse of the English language’.
“From an education point of view I get very incensed about things like the reverse ‘B’.
“We spend a lot of time in our primary schools teaching children not to write ‘Ds’ and ‘Bs’ backwards and it should not be allowed.”
She said: “I’m not sure if we can include that objection, but I feel very strongly about it.”
The committee resolved to object to the application, with Jeanette Clifford and John Gardner (Lib Dem, St John’s) the only members voting against the objection.
Many potential patrons of the Walkabout bar have greeted the news more warmly.
Commenting on Newbury Today’s Facebook page, Jaz K Wilson said: “If they are showing the NFL games on a Sunday that’s where you will find me.”
And Steven Burrows wrote: “Somewhere to actually watch the footie?”
Friends Rob Tandy, Nick Hall and Alex Newell suggested: “Time to bring back the Sundays of watching sports in the pub.”
A final decision on the signs will be made by West Berkshire Council in the coming weeks.
Last year, rumours had circulated that the pub would become a Yates bar before Stonegate announced it would not be making an immediate decision about the bar’s future.
It reopened the venue unbranded with a new menu, real ales and music, while it considered “how best to use significant investment to secure the pub’s long-term future”.