Wave of support to retain The Barge

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 25 Aug 2017

A CAMPAIGN to keep The Barge pub restaurant afloat and in Grimsby town centre has reached a new high.

An unprecedented tidal wave of support has flooded in for the popular venue to be kept at Riverhead.

Scores of customers and residents have made passionate submissions in the consultation over the plans for a new nine-screen cinema and leisure complex in the heart of Grimsby.

Around 170 submissions have been made to North East Lincolnshire Council supporting the £20 million cinema and leisure plan which could create up to 350 jobs.

But members of the public said that must not be at the cost of losing The Barge.

Nearly 8,300 have so far backed a petition to save the floating pub.

The venue will be hosting its annual Barge Fest on Saturday, September 9, and campaigners are hoping it will not be the last one.

The planning application from BMO Real Estate Partners was submitted last month and outlined the vision for the leisure complex next to Freshney Place.

Developers want to replace the floating bar with a fountain.

The application came just days after North East Lincolnshire Council was awarded £570,000 from central government to help kickstart town centre developments, including the so-called town centre Gateway Entrance around Frederick Ward Way, Peaks Parkway and Victoria Street.

That project includes a “waterside” promenade retail and leisure site near Alexandra Dock.

At the time of the application, development director Maurice Fitzgerald said: “This is an exciting time for Freshney Place.

“We have worked for a couple of years in formulating ideas in partnership with the council, and the public consultation is our opportunity to obtain the views of local people before finalising the designs to be submitted in a formal planning application.”

Barge owner, Derrick Howard submitted his view to the council urging planners to retain The Barge at Riverhead.

He said: “We would like to look for an opportunity to relocate so that The Barge is not lost. Ideally this would be as close to the current position as possible but if relocation has to be outside the Riverhead then this should be explored.”

He urged planners to consider first, the identification of suitable and alternative mooring for The Barge.

Second, that the costs associated with the relocation of The Barge should be borne by the developer and that this should be subject to a condition being applied to any forthcoming planning consent and that part of this condition is that the relocation of The Barge should be prior to groundworks commencing on the potential development site.

Derrick said: “The Barge offers a sense of place and community, a feature well-loved enough to garner such support and everything that can be done to save it should be done.

“The Barge continues its links with the fishing past, port and places like Victoria Mills, it echoes the past when the watercourses would have bustled with boats, ships and barges, it would be a great loss to see these links permanently broken.”

He said the floating venue had served customers for more than 35 years and employs ten staff and had thrived while many other pub chains, including Yates, Walkabout, Chicago Rock and Wetherspoons had failed.

In a submission to the council, supporter Camilla Whitworth said: “I do not object to regenerating Grimsby; clearly we need outside investors to make Grimsby great again. However, I do object to purposefully destroying profitable, viable business.

“And for what? A fountain?

“The Barge is the heart and soul of town. We are a fishing town, why do these plans wish to sabotage the culture and spirit of our fishing heritage?”

“The Barge is a conversation point, a photo opportunity to visitors, a friendly reception guaranteed every time, a place to get wholesome food, which is locally sourced. And the plans want to replace it with ... a fountain.”

Bev Holmes wrote: “Our emphasis should be on the local businesses. Yes, I would enjoy it if I could eat at a Nando’s or suchlike on my doorstep but I prefer going to smaller local-run businesses. This has been a popular topic of conversation amongst my friends, family and work colleagues and not one person thinks it should go!

“This may not be a council-funded project but you can ultimately have a say on the final plans.”

The Barge owner is meeting the developers and council chiefs on September 7.

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