Masonic Lodge in couple's garden granted licence to sell alcohol

Objectors feared drunken strangers may wander into their garden if the plans were approved.

Masonic Lodge in couple’s garden granted licence by Perth and Kinross Council to sell alcohol iStock

Perth and Kinross Licensing Board has unanimously approved a licence for a Masonic Lodge situated in a couple’s garden.

On Wednesday, January 17 councillors agreed to grant a premises licence for Lodge St John 174 in Dunning to be able sell alcohol.

But objectors Clare Monaghan and Glen Gardner feared the licence might result in drunken strangers being in the garden of their family home.

Rather unusually Clare Monaghan and Glen Gardner have a Masonic Lodge – a former church building – in their garden. The former church sits next to their home – a former manse – and within their garden grounds. They bought their home 27 years ago.

At Wednesday’s meeting Ms Monaghan explained to the board: “The Lodge is located wholly and entirely in our garden. We have concerns about the safety and security of my property and my family if a full licence is granted.

“During clement weather I use my garden as an extension of my living space and I would be fairly and severely impacted if this licence went through.”

She explained that when they bought the house there was a “condition of access for Lodge meetings once a month over six winter months”.

Asked if there had been any issues, Ms Monaghan mentioned damage to flowerbeds and bushes and added: “I personally have been subjected to abuse from tenants of the Lodge. To be fair, I think Mr Crowe [the applicant] took that on board and the Lodge is no longer let out.”

On another occasion tickets were sold to members of the public for an event but this was reported and stopped.

Referring to the applicant Robert Crowe, she said: “Mr Crowe has been very good about coming to speak to us when he was leader and responsible but that was not always the case and he may not always be in charge.”

Dr Gardner added: “I do not think the premises are suitable for what’s effectively going to be a pub.”

He was concerned the proposed licence was for “almost a full day every day  – far in excess of what it has historically been used” and an “unacceptable increase”.

The board’s depute clerk Colin Elliott explained the licence was restricted.

He said: “It can only be meetings with alcohol. If they wanted to hold a function with the general public, they would have to apply for an occasional licence and be limited to 12 in a calendar year.”

Mr Crowe assured the board and neighbours: “There will be no variants. It’s for Lodge meetings only.

“All we want is a licence to run the Lodge and to follow the rules and the law.”

He later added: “No one gets in unless they are members or wives of members. I spoke to Dr Gardner and Ms Monaghan and said I would make sure all our functions take place in the village hall.”

Meetings are held in the Lodge twice a month from September to April. The Lodge has been at its current Dunning location for 102 years and has been in the village since 1780.

Applicant Duncan MacKenzie said: “All we want is peace and harmony.”

Moving for approval convener Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Barrett said: “I would like to move that we grant this subject to mandatory conditions and local conditions:

“1. requiring the premises to be operated as a qualifying club and abide by its written constitution, and

“2. have written policies in place for: (i) noise mitigation, (ii) dispersal of patrons, and (iii) litter and waste management.”

SNP councillor Iain MacPherson seconded and it was unanimously approved.

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