A Keynsham pub has been allowed to keep the outside bar it built without planning permission at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Old Bank bosses said in the first lockdown they lost £49,000 and by the end of March, the turnover was down a further £204,000 compared to the previous year.
They said removing the shed after 12 months was not economically viable and hoped it could remain in place for five years to help them recoup their losses.
Granting retrospective permission, Bath and North East Somerset Council said it could stay up until September 2022 as it would no longer be needed when restrictions are fully lifted.
The Old Bank said in its application: “We desperately need to be able to continue to trade for the pub to start recouping these losses and have a long term viable future.
“Without the outside bar the pub could simply cease to exist, causing greater risk to the upkeep of the listed building.
“With losses and debt burden we need to ensure we have cashflow to survive. The outside bar will generate the trade that ensures survival and the ongoing commercial viability of the pub which protects the integrity of the listed building.
“If we have a good summer, it will help us start to repay some of the debt burden the pandemic has put on us. It will secure the ongoing employment of 20 members of staff.”
Nearly 50 residents supported the pub, with only one person objecting.
Keynsham Town Council said the Old Bank bosses had historically failed to apply for planning permission before it pressed ahead with development – they were recently ordered to redecorate after being told the colour choice was “at odds” with the setting.
Town councillors did not oppose the outdoor bar but said its uPVC windows were totally inappropriate in the conservation area.
Assessing the application, B&NES Council planning officers said: “A permanent structure of this scale, materiality and in this location is, under normal circumstances, unlikely to be supported by the council.
“However, it is understood that the Old Bank shed is temporary, given the current Covid-19 situation and there is a need for it to serve the outdoor seating for the pub.”
They judged that the harm to listed properties nearby was less than substantial and outweighed by the public benefits of securing the optimum viable use of the pub.
They said the outside bar should be stained or painted a dark colour.
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter