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Wetherspoons Refused in Headingley

After sitting in the applicant’s chair for eleven years for the Leeds Licensing Sub-Committee I sat in the objectors chair for the first time ever on 29 November 2016.

I was representing objectors to the application for a premises licence at the former Elinor Lupton Centre Headingley Lane in Leeds by JD Wetherspoons.

There were a number of residential and business objectors to the application but no valid objections persisted by the responsible authorities.

Wetherspoons made their application for premises which they suggested could hold up to 500 people – the premises falling in the Cumulative Impact Policy Area for Headingley.

Hearing evidence from myself, residents and ward councillors the Licensing Sub-Committee took a week to release their decision which we received on Friday 9 December 2016. They formed the view that “The application would be likely to add to the cumulative impact on the crime and disorder and public nuisance objectives. The premises would have a large capacity and, on the applicant’s own case, would be attractive to a broad customer base.”

The committee, in their reasons, went on to say, “There was absolutely no criticism from the committee in respect of the business aims or strategy of the enterprise. Irrespective of the steps taken by the operator to control or moderate the behaviour of customers, the committee considered that there would be an increased impact on public nuisance and crime and disorder as a consequence of the numbers of people who would be attracted to the area – whether taking part in the Otley Run or otherwise – and subsequently dispersed, including via the surrounding residential areas, at least some of whom would in all probability be intoxicated.”

In refusing the application the committee said that, in their view, there was an absence of measures that it considered as demonstrating that there would be no additional impact. The committee in ultimately refusing the application said “The committee reminded itself that the councils policy is just that – a policy – and that each case must be considered on it’s particular circumstances and with an open mind. However, despite good intentions of this well established operator, the committee were sympathetic to the concerns of the local residents about such a large premises obtaining a licence and the impact it would have on this residential area.”

On the evidence that was before the committee I am certain that this was a correct decision and it will be interesting now to see whether Wetherspoons decide to the appeal the decision as there are robust reasons in the notice of determination that would be considerably difficult to overturn on appeal.