Paperwork, Planning and Patience

If you are new to our site, please check out our first Bear Blog to get up to speed – What on Earth are we doing?

Now you know why we’re opening, here’s the process to make it happen…


Firstly spend a few weeks looking at suitable/unsuitable premises thinking about where the chiller room and toilets will be; decide on a colour scheme and toy with the idea of what pub name will evoke nostalgia and fortitude; consider the cool vibe that everyone will want to come and be part of; make a mental note of where the nearest socket is to plug in your till. Actually only the first part of this is relevant because the rest of it is just a distant fantasy.


Don’t even think about decor and adornments until you’ve tackled the slightly “techie” and possibly boring bits the planning department just love to make you feel inadequate about and the best way to overcome your regulation failings is to submit a proposal to the planning department and ask for “pre-application advice” – a non committal document that gives guidance on what you haven’t even thought of and haven’t adequately covered.

So. We did some research.

Then we did lots more research learning loads more about the first lot of research we done.

Then we got some forms to fill in that required more research.

We got to do some training and learn more stuff about licensing law and filled in some more forms, handed over a pile of paperwork, some plans and a large cheque to the Council and then we waited. And we waited; and we waited (still doing more research though).

David & Nicola visiting Martyn Hillier, the owner of the UK’s first Micropub – The Butcher’s Arms.

David & Nicola visiting Martyn Hillier, the owner of the UK’s first Micropub – The Butcher’s Arms.

Doing all this stuff yourself means you get to trawl through other peoples experiences of the whole process whilst waiting; this inevitably highlights the many problems and set-backs they have had to deal with, and the ones we are likely to encounter. It galvanised our resolve, but we were still waiting.

About 20 working days they said; about 60 as it turned out before we got a reply, by which time it was too late and the landlord changed their minds about the old Southbourne Florists shop we said we wanted. Pleasure and pain all at the same time – planning advice that gave us good reason to carry on, and the disappointment of the loss of our first choice location.

The next day we viewed the landlord’s other property (formerly Not Just Cards) and decided we could still make it work, so we talked with the agent and said that we were interested. We went home and amended our plans to suit the change of location and added all the recommendations in that came back with the pre-app advice, ie; waste management plan, noise management plan, provision for safety, smoking policy, acoustic ceiling specification, intended hours of opening, bin store location and Heritage statement (to name just a few). We drew up a comprehensive plan and submitted the full application to Bournemouth Planning on the 27th January (with another large cheque).

So now began the next stage of waiting…

Meantime another form to fill in; this time for the premises licence. Public consultation for 28 days; extensive drafting of licensable activity detailed and checked; then re-drafted and checked again; then submitted with another large cheque.

And then more waiting. If you like chewing fingernails it’s a recommended past-time.

At this point, we want to thank everyone who has supported us to reach this stage.

We were knocked out to discover there were 70 comments of support lodged with the Council during the feedback phase of the planning application.


Just a few of the comments were:

“The proposal should be applauded for its originality, emphasis on community, and commitment to supporting local producers.”


“This new Micropub would be an excellent community asset and meeting place for locals when many pubs have closed down.”


“This proposed pub will be a welcome addition to the commercial and social life of Southbourne. It will be different from the existing pubs and will provide greater variety to a developing area.”


“I believe it will be an asset to the town.”

We thank each of you who took the time to support the The Wight Bear with your submissions – That means everything to us.

We have also received numerous emails and comments through the website and social media and are so grateful for all the kind words.

Finally, we are pleased to reveal that all the paperwork, planning and patience has been worthwhile because Bournemouth Borough Council have granted the change of use to A4 drinking establishment, and the premises licence.

So it’s now full steam ahead for The Wight Bear Ale House to open as soon as we can do the fit-out and tap the first barrel.


Sean Barker - SB Marketing

Marketing Consultant, Graphic Designer, Squarespace Website Developer.