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Paddy Whur starts with a big win for the MJR Group

Contested hearings are always stressful, but when it is the first hearing for a new client, that adds significantly to the challenge. I have just being successful in extending the hours at the Tramshed, one of MJR Group’s major venues, against Environmental Heath, Police and Ward Councillors and local resident opposition.

The MJR Group is an events promotion and venue development company based in Bristol. They manage and own multiple venues in major UK cities, as well as promoting touring productions and festivals throughout the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai and Ireland. They are one of my most interesting recent new client acquisitions and I am delighted to be acting for them. The MJR Group operate from the following venues:

  • The Engine Rooms, Southampton;
  • Marble Factor, Bristol;
  • Motion, Bristol;
  • The Globe, Cardiff;
  • Tramshed, Cardiff;
  • Dingwalls, Camden;
  • Plug, Sheffield; and
  • The Assembly, Leamington Spa

Our application for the Tramshed in Cardiff was to extend the hours of operation from Midnight to 3AM on 20 occasions a year to allow Club Nights to be operated at the venue, with quality, high-end DJ talent being booked for these events.

The company has invested over £1m in the refit of the Tramshed, which is a phenomenal premises on the outskirts of the City Centre in Cardiff. The former Tramshed had been derelict for a significant number of years before MJR Group took it over and invested heavily in it. The Police, residents and Ward Councillors had concerns that our extension in hours would not promote the licensing objectives of:

  • The prevention of crime and disorder;
  • The prevention of public nuisance; and
  • The promotion of public safety

The Police produced evidence of dispersal issues arising from the premises when live music events are finishing at midnight.

I was able to explain to the Licensing Sub-Committee that there would be significantly less impact from the events that my client wished to offer, on the basis that there would be a much more gradual dispersal from the premises from a club night than a live music event. The issue with live music events is that there is an immediate finish to the concert, with up to 1200 people leaving the venue very quickly. This wouldn’t be the case with the extended hours events, where there would be a much more gradual dispersal from the premises.

In addition, as a result of the application, my clients had agreed to offer a significant number of additional conditions to assist in promoting the licensing objectives. On top of all of this, they had devised significant new dispersal policies with the use of a rear area for taxi pick-up points and creating a new dispersal zone towards the City Centre and away from residential properties. Whilst the police still opposed our application, they were very fair during the hearing, telling the Licensing Authority that, although they didn’t think the extension in hours would promote the licensing objectives, they felt that the premises were not problematic, on the whole.

The incidents of crime and disorder at the premises were significantly low for the number of people that the premises have seen coming through the doors in the last 2 and half years since they have opened. The Licensing Sub-Committee felt, on balance, that they could allow the application in the terms that we sought, as long as the additional conditions that we offered were attached to the premises licence.

My clients offered to meet with Ward Councillors and residents to explain the nature of the operation of the premises and seek advice from the residents as to improving dispersal and preventing any nuisance issues arising from the premises. I am certain that this proactive approach toward the local residents and Ward Councillors will bear fruit, not only in reducing incidents of public nuisance, but also in securing the premises’ future as a community hub, as well as a live music venue.