THE Vale council has confirmed it has received complaints about a coffee-wine bar – days after its co-owner – a councillor - opened it minus planning permission.

Current Barry deputy mayor, and Vale and town councillor, Leighton Rowlands opened The Watering Hole, in St Nicholas Road, Barry, on Friday, June 14.

Dyfan ward councillor, Rowlands, who last year was the Vale of Glamorgan mayor and before that the Vale deputy mayor, invited – along with co-owner Sam Lewis – selected guests and advertised the opening date and time on social media.

Barry Town Council (BTC) planners – a Vale council planning authority consultee – considered the application at a committee meeting on May 29.

At a BTC full council meeting on May 12, Cllr Shirley Hodges welcomed the new mayor and deputy mayor and said the mayor’s office should never be used for private or personal gain.

The Watering Hole applicant, Cllr Rowlands proposed the property changing from A1 (Retail) to A3 (Food and Drink) to set up as a coffee shop during the day and a wine bar during the evening.

In the proposal the applicant, said: “The thing that would give the business the edge over similar businesses and products in the local area would be there is no other establishment in the local area; there would be better products on sales and a better customer service then similar businesses within the area.”

He added: “We want to offer an experience for people rather than just drinking, we want people to relax and enjoy it after a hard day work or somewhere just to unwind.”

But BTC planners agreed to accept the officer’s recommendation for “objection” on the basis that the “proposed development would have a detrimental effect upon the amenities that local residents currently enjoy due to possible noise; disturbance and traffic levels.”

Following the start of trading, one resident, who did not want to be named said: “The business owners have had no desire to come and speak to local neighbours to introduce themselves and let us know what the place is about, which suggests they have no consideration for the close neighbours going forward.”

Another resident, who took photographs outside the premises on June 14, added: “I don’t think having the people spill out into the carpark drinking like this was what the proposed plan suggests and that is not a beer garden.

“The one from 3am, the bar is still open, they just turned the lights out.”

Following the opening, a Vale council spokesman added: “We have received public complaints on this subject so will be investigating the matter.

“This business has opened without planning permission so is in breach of planning regulations.

“The council will now consider appropriate action to take and the identity of the business owners will have absolutely no bearing on this.

“It is possible to have planning permission granted retrospectively, but a business can face serious consequences if it begins operating and such consent is not forthcoming.

“These include an enforcement notice requiring the use to cease, which if ignored could lead to prosecution.

“The (Vale) council is still considering the planning application, which will be decided by planning committee in the near future and has not authorised the use of a picture of Cllr Rowlands wearing mayoral chains.”

Cllr Rowlands is on the Vale council planning committee and would declare an interest when the proposal is considered.

Cllr Rowlands said: “I was informed by the council planning department like other applications the department has had before it is not unlawful to open in advance of obtaining planning permission. “But I will get further clarification on this with the department.

“I have made it clear to the council to treat me like a member of the general public.

“I have never used the mayor chains in relation to the business.

“I did not authorise the use of that photo on the website and when I saw it a few months ago I informed the web developer to take it down.

“If you look at the website it’s no longer there.”

He added: “The premises has never had anyone, but staff leave after hours.

“When we have been cleaning up ready for the next day.

“We cannot stop people going outside but we do ask them that they are quiet and if it gets loud we go outside to remind them and all drinks remain inside.”