Planners give green light to turn former Matlock toilet block into brewery

Beer will be brewed in a disused Matlock toilet block following council approval.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 9:24 am

The former toilet block at Artist’s Corner, on the A6 between Matlock and Matlock Bath, has been closed for more than three years, but will now get a new lease of life.

At a Derbyshire Dales District Council meeting, councillors agreed to allow husband and wife duo Stephen and Amy McKnight to operate their brewing company from the authority’s former toilet block.

Up until now, the married couple have been running Hollow Tree Brewing Company from a spare room in their Whatstandwell home.

The former toilet block whill now be used for brewing beer

At last night’s meeting, Mr McKnight said that their products are currently sold at local markets, online and in some shops but that the company has “outgrown our room in our home”.

He said there would not be any lorries used for deliveries or collections on site.

Mr McKnight said: “Security is being raised and with the brewery hoping to become our full-time livelihood, the security of our equipment, ingredients and therefore the site itself is paramount.

“The repurpose of this building, although it might not immediately jump out as such, very much suits a small-scale brewery.

“We are a husband and wife run brewery who are hoping to take our business to the next step, following our dream, and the granting of this change of use will allow us to do exactly that.”

Papers submitted with the application say the business has operated without causing any disturbance from a private home for two years and hopes this reassures residents who have worries about noise, odour and disruption.

Chris Nash, a council planning officer, said: “It is a relatively modest operation as proposed, but it does provide functional space to a growing business that has developed from a cottage industry to now a slightly bigger business which requires a slightly bigger premises.

“It is ideally suited to the applicants and their needs.”

He confirmed that there would not be any sales from the site itself which cannot be used for commercial use.Mr Nash confirmed that the application was only being brought before committee because it is a council-owned property.

In April 2018, the council closed the small hexagonal building, which sits alongside the River Derwent, a public car park and a children’s play area, due to the cost of maintenance and lack of profitability.

Cllr Garry Purdy, Conservative leader of the council, said at last night’s meeting that the loss of the toilet block was “one of the casualties of the long austerity years of cuts”.

He said he was in hospital at the time of the vote on toilet block closures and had sent a letter to the authority’s previous Conservative leader, Cllr Lewis Rose, “strongly objecting” to the plans.

Cllr Purdy said: “It is unfathomable why this country doesn’t have an authority that deals with public conveniences, this really should come under Public Health England.

“It is a good use of the building and it is better than it going into disrepair and vandalism and I wish Mr and Mrs McKnight good luck with the venture.”