City’s oldest pub fighting to reinstate outside seating

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The oldest pub in Durham City has launched a call for public support to regain its outdoor seating area.

The Dun Cow, located on Old Elvet, previously occupied two parking spaces outside its premises to house an outside seating area. However, a decision made by Durham County Council and Highways England in April led to the removal of the barriers cordoning off the seating area, making it unusable for the business.

In a post on Facebook, the owners of the pub Bill Sanders and Jill Carey asked for their customers’ support, saying that “The Dun Cow need your help to get these spaces back, so everyone has a safe place to come and enjoy the sun and sometimes with family and friends.

“These spaces were not only important to the pub but many of our lovely customers sat and enjoyed here socialising and in turn supporting a small business who has, like many others struggled throughout these past few years.

In June 2021, The Dun Cow was granted permission to serve customers outside in the summer, after intervention from Durham MP Mary Foy. Ms Foy argued that it should be allowed since there was reduced traffic in the Old Elvet area due to the building works on Elvet Bridge, which were eventually completed last October.

“The Dun Cow need your help to get these spaces back”

Bill Sanders and Jill Carey

The owners of the pub had previously hoped to negotiate with the Council to renew the agreement on an annual basis, saying that the outside area provided a “lifeline” for them as a business.

Last year, Durham University Hockey Club started a fundraiser for the business called ‘Mission Save The Dun Cow’. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the pub had been unable to reopen as it had no outside seating space when restrictions were first lifted. The campaign raised awareness of the issue — leading to MP Mary Foy’s intervention — as well as over £12,000 being raised for the business.

Durham County Council’s strategic traffic manager David Lewin said: “During the coronavirus pandemic, we adopted a flexible approach to accommodate requests for pavement space to support social distancing requirements and the reopening of the hospitality industry.

“In order to allocate a safe area for temporary outside seating and address the loss of indoor space at The Dun Cow Inn during the pandemic, on-street pay and display parking spaces in front of the premises were temporarily suspended. This was done with the understanding that, once restrictions were relaxed and indoor space could be used again, the temporary measures would be removed. This was communicated to the owner of The Dun Cow Inn in advance.

“We understand the difficulties faced by businesses following the pandemic, however, as society is now living with Covid and restrictions have been removed, Old Elvet is once again very busy and demand for parking in Durham City has returned to pre-pandemic levels.”

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