New craft beer bar to open in Kings Heath despite neighbour objections

Some neighbours have expressed concerns over the bar’s plans to stay open late

A new craft beer bar is opening in what used to be a family run gift shop on York Road in Kings Heath, despite objections from some locals.

Already home to a range of independent businesses from vintage clothing shop Top Banana to wine bar Grace and James, the spot is a hub for locals, especially foodies. Schooners Bar is the passion project of John-Paul McCaughey, James McLaughlin, and Neil Corcoran.

The business began life as a mobile bar, with bookings at festivals and parties, but the onset of Covid in 2020 obliterated trading opportunities and the group had to rethink their business plan. In April they took on the lease of a small, dilapidated premises on York Road and replenished it, fitting new electrics, plumbing – the works. The bar has a capacity for up to 60 people, and will sell locally sourced products – often from a few streets away.

The venue which is set to be Schooners Bar, a craft beer bar on York Road, Kings Heath. Credit: Google Street View

Speaking to Birmingham City councillors on the licensing committee earlier this week, John, said: “Everything we sell is local only; nothing outside of the Midlands region. Our USP [unique selling point] was to keep supporting people who have supported us to get off the ground and stock things which people are making two or three roads down or half a mile away.”

But some local residents are unhappy with the news that another late night business will be setting up shop on the street which has only become busy in recent years. Families have been living there long before the road got a reputation as a hospitality hotspot.

A licensing application to Birmingham City Council received one objection from two anonymous neighbours who are unhappy with the proposed closing hour of 1am Thursday to Saturday. They are also keen for measures to be taken to limit noise, such as no music

Neighbours unhappy with plans

Their objection letter said: “We understand that Kings Heath is a vibrant community and we want it to remain so. We don’t expect silence.

“But we do want to keep a good quality of life for all local residents and we are unhappy with the area immediately around York Road becoming effectively a ‘sacrifice zone’ so that York Road can become an area for outdoor and late night drinking, mostly serving people who don’t live in the immediate surrounding area.”

John-Paul McCaughey explained he and his business partners had door knocked 15-20 local homes to speak to residents about what they thought about the plans and had received positive responses. He emphasised the purpose of the bar is for customers to try new beers and learn about them, and claimed craft beer bars don’t typically cause nuisance.

He said the Thursday closing time was intended to allow people who worked at other businesses on York Road to come to Schooners after work, but conceded it was too late for a week night. However, they are keen to keep the 1am closing time on the weekend.

He said: “A lot of objections are comparing us to the other businesses on the road. A lot of them are day time businesses but our business is a craft bar, we are an evening business.

“The one o’clock parameters are just the opportunity to make a trade. We are very reliant on weekend trade to make a profit to make this project work.”

The committee met privately to decide whether to grant licences to Schooners Bar for sale of alcohol, indoors live music, and late night refreshment, and will publish its decision shortly.

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