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A Breath of Fresh Air Before the Licensing Sub-Committee

I had a contested application yesterday for a new premises licence to go into one of the railway arches near the new South entrance to Leeds station. It was for Ossett Brewery who operate two of the other licensed premises in the immediate area…without complaint or issue.

The application premises fall within the “green” part of the Cumulative Impact Policy for Leeds. I have an issue with the definition of the “green” part of the CIP….but that is for a separate article. The definition states:

“All other areas within the city centre CIP will be designated green areas where good quality applications will be generally be more acceptable even though the area is a CIP area.”

So, we met the police and spoke to them about the application, and carefully drafted an operating schedule to go with the application. We received a “qualified” representation from the Police and Health and Safety and agreed their additional conditions so that their representations went away.

We received a representation from the Environmental Protection agency and 11 members of the public from city centre apartments in the immediate vicinity of the premises.

The EHO wanted an additional seven conditions which we agreed. They did maintain their representation on the hours requested saying that 1 am on a Friday and Saturday was unreasonable, suggesting a terminal hour of midnight, and that the smoking area at the front of the premises should not be used from 11pm.

As there were effective representations the matter went to a hearing. The residents did not attend and the authority was persuaded that their fears were ameliorated by the operating schedule and the fact that the operator had two other premises promoting the licensing objectives in the area. They also took note that whilst 11 of the residents in the two blocks of apartments objected, 270 did not.

So we were left with the stance of the EHO. He accepted that the layout of the premises, acoustic lobby on the front door, exiting people through the rear of the premises away from the apartments and quality of the operator eased his fears as to noise escape from the premises. However, he persisted with two arguments:

  • The Hours were too late on a weekend.
  • The operator could not manage the smoking area without causing a nuisance to residents of the apartment block and the two close hotels.

The main thrust on the hours were that other operators in the area would follow suit and ask for longer hours was dismissed by the sub-committee on the basis that every application would be judged on its merits….and the merits of this application passed the test.

Smoking outside the premises…..

We had suggested that we would stop using the outside area at the premises for anything other than smoking from 11 pm to close of business but would supervise the area where smokers would be. EHO wanted the use to finish at 11 pm and premises close at 12 midnight. I can not see the logic in this and told the committee that surely it is better to have customers in a supervised/controlled environment so that they would be more likely to behave and respect the neighbourhood. EHO would not have it.

And here we had a breath of fresh air. One of the counsellors said to the EHO that if people buy apartments or chose a hotel in the City centre then surely they would expect licensed premises would be in the vicinity, that could be part of the attraction and that 1am was not a late night licence for premises in the City centre.

The licence was granted as applied for as the sub committee obviously agreed with the comments of the counsellor and were impressed by the operator and his plans to manage the premises and the smoking area.

I am now looking forward to the opening party as the menu looks superb!