Potton microbrewery gets planning permission

PUBLISHED: 14:43 24 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:47 24 October 2017

Potton microbrewery supremo Richard Haigh. Picture: Potton Brewing Company

Potton microbrewery supremo Richard Haigh. Picture: Potton Brewing Company

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Beer is set to be made in Potton once again after planning permission was granted for a microbrewery in the town centre – and it should be up and running within months.

The space Richard Haigh is set to turn into Potton's very own microbrewery. Picture: Richard HaighThe space Richard Haigh is set to turn into Potton's very own microbrewery. Picture: Richard Haigh

Richard Haigh will set up his Potton Brewing Company in a former spray shop off Market Square after Central Beds Council gave his plan the green light on Friday.

It’s the culmination of years of planning for Richard, 41, who works for a London architectural firm – and he’s looking forward to making his brewing dream a reality.

“I’ve had a longstanding interest in beer from a slightly more technical point of view than just drinking it,” he told the Comet.

“I’ve been friends with Mick Dunkley at the Rising Sun – father of the landlord Matt – for a long time, and we’d spent many evenings chatting over a few beers about the possibilities of opening a brewery.

“A couple of years ago a friend of mine bought a beer kit and produced some reasonably decent beer, so I thought I’d give it a go.

“It was OK – but being someone who enjoys researching things, I started reading up on proper brewing and never looked back.”

Richard moved up to Potton in 2008 seeking a quieter life and a good place to raise a family, and commuting to and from the capital with young kids at home gradually began to take a toll.

He said: “I reached the point where, stuck in King’s Cross with no trains running once too often, I finally thought ‘Enough!’ and started to properly make plans.”

Richard set up his Potton Brewing Company and enlisted his friends to try out his homebrew beers.

Richard Haigh with his beers at the Potton Show. Picture: Dr J HaighRichard Haigh with his beers at the Potton Show. Picture: Dr J Haigh

He found the industrial unit off Market Square after an appeal on Facebook, and while navigating the planning process he built a plywood bar and handed out free samples of his core beers at the Potton Show.

“Thankfully it was a roaring success and everyone seemed to be really excited about the possibility of a brewery opening up again,” he said.

“Finally this week my planning application has been approved, which means that things should start moving. Optimistically, I’m hoping to be up and running by the end of the year, although more realistically it will probably be February by the time I’m brewing.”

The brewery is to be a 2½-barrel plant, producing 720 pints at a time or up to 2,160 a week at full tilt. Richard intends for it to become an amenity for the community, with a penny from every pint sold donated to local charities.

Richard said: “I’m not too concerned about being the next Brewdog. This is more about a change of lifestyle, making a bit of a difference locally, and not spending three hours a day commuting.

“If it’s a success and we need to expand, then that’s great. But as long as it keeps a roof over my head I’ll be happy.”

A spokeswoman for Central Beds Council said: “During our pre-application conversations with Mr Haigh, he made a good argument that granting his application for a change of use to a microbrewery would enhance the building and therefore its setting in the conservation area.

“We are especially delighted to be able to enable a local resident to start a local business, and we wish Mr Haigh well in his new venture.”

To find out more, have a look at Richard’s blog at pottonbrewingcompany.com.

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