Sikh school plan for former pub

There are proposals to turn a vacant Kingswood pub into a Sikh school.

The Old Flower Pot Inn on the High Street has been closed since 2017 after failing to secure any interested leaseholders, and there have been anti-social behaviour and security issues.

Flowerpot Properties Ltd won planning permission in 2021 from South Gloucestershire Council  to turn the pub into a 125-place children’s nursery but that has not been implemented. Now there are plans by Bristol Gurmat Class to change the use of the pub to learning and local community use.

The idea is for the building to become a permanent base for Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Gurmat Vidhyala (Bristol), formerly known as Bristol Gurmat Class, which is the region’s leading Sikh supplementary education programme and a non-profit charity.

It offers classes to children aged four to 18 on the faith as well as script reading and writing, musical training and martial arts. Classes were previously held at the Bristol Gurdwara in St George but these were unable to begin again following the pandemic. Since 2022 classes have been spread around a variety of  community centres and there is a waiting list for places.

Lessons typically take place in the early evening and in the day on Saturdays and range from individual tuition to group classes varying in size from eight to 15 pupils. There are currently 100 local children registered for classes each week.

Once a month on a weekend, the ground-floor classrooms of the building would become a venue for the local Sikh community to assemble for Langar, a community-led gathering serving free meals to all, regardless of religion, gender or ethnicity.

The application retains the existing building and maintenance work is proposed to bring it back to a good state of repair. The five off-street parking spaces at the frontage would be retained. Some signs have already been erected outside the building.

It is hoped that lessons can start at the premises in September. The applicant says that parents bringing their children to lessons are encouraged to car share, walk or use public transport, and older children often travel to their class by foot or bus.

The application to the council says that lesson times would be staggered to reduce the impact of parents dropping off and collecting in the High Street. Lessons take place after the school day has ended so there would be no highway impact during the morning peak traffic rush hour.

The planning reference is P23/02141/F and the deadline for comments is 8th August.