Owner ordered to fix historic pub after ‘deplorable’ restaurant conversion

The Golden Lion, The Broadway, Houghton.
The Golden Lion, The Broadway, Houghton.
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A RESTAURANT has been told to rectify ‘unacceptable’ and ‘deplorable’ building work carried out in a historic pub building.

Just weeks after the Avanti Italian restaurant opened in the former Golden Lion pub in Houghton, a part-retrospective planning application was refused by Sunderland City Council.

Owner Parviz Golzar, who says he will appeal the decision, has replaced two timber window frames on the ground floor of the front of the 300-year-old building with uPVC.

Two wooden canopies were also placed above the windows, while an extraction flue and ventilation equipment were installed to the north side of the property, in The Broadway, all without planning permission.

Houghton ward councillor Sheila Ellis attacked the “totally alien” and “deplorable” alteration to the pub, which is situated within the St Michael’s conservation area, next to the Grade I listed Church of St Michael and All Angels.

Coun Ellis referred the application to the Hetton, Houghton and Washington development control sub-committee, which refused it.

The council will now issue an enforcement notice, requiring Mr Golzar to return the building to how it was.

Mr Golzar has hit back and told the Echo that some of the changes were done by previous owners.

He said: “We are going to appeal. It is then up to a third party to decide. That building was dilapidated, we rescued the building. We didn’t want to change the windows, but the kids around here damaged the windows. Safety and security is important.”

As part of the application, Mr Golzar had also applied to change the upper floor windows to uPVC and erect a steel staircase on the north side as a fire escape.

In a letter put before the committee, Coun Ellis said she objected to every aspect of the application, adding that they have an adverse effect on the conservation area.

She said: “The Golden Lion was the only surviving tavern from the famous four lion pubs – White, Golden, Red and Black, which historically stood in this area.

“The alterations to the former Golden Lion, a building which has been completely sympathetic to its historic surroundings, are highly intrusive. The complete gutting of the formerly-untouched 300-year-old interior is also deplorable.”

The council’s heritage protection team branded the work ‘unacceptable’, although a report placed before the committee noted benefits of improved security from safety glazing, improved emergency escape and extra ventilation for a commercial kitchen, though the benefits do not outweigh the harm caused.

It added that while the previous timber windows were not original sliding sash ones, they were at least made of the same material.

“A meeting was held with the applicant in an attempt to address the concerns outlined above and achieve a more acceptable scheme,” the report added.

“However, the applicant was unwilling to alter any aspect of the scheme.”