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Saturday, 17 May 2014

34-36 Stall Street

There is a proposed development by Longacre (Bath) at 34-36 Stall Street involving the refurbishment of the building to provide additional retail facilities, new apartments on the first and second floors together with further apartments in a rooftop extension.  The rear of the building overlooks the courtyard at St Catherine's.   We have spoken to the developer and his agents who provided details of the proposals and we have visited the site with local residents.

In general, and subject to anything we have not yet seen that may be in the planning application when it is filed, we do not think the development itself will be a problem for residents.  There are, however, justifiable concerns about the management of the construction process which is likely to take about eight months, particularly access, hours of work, machinery, lighting and the avoidance of undue noise, dust, etc.  We have suggested to the developer that satisfactory arrangements covering these areas of concern will be need to be included in the planning application

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Party houses

An increasing number of residents are reporting problems of noise nuisance and antisocial behaviour associated with flats and houses being let out as party venues and in particular stag and hen dos.

We are pressing the council to review the legal advice to their planning officers in the light of an Appeal Court Judgement which allows them to view this type of letting a “change of use” requiring planning permission.

We are also asking the police and local authority for assurances that they will be looking at the provisions of the Antisocial  Behaviour, Crime and Police Act 2014 which becomes law  this month to consider their use in tackling this problem.


In the meantime we are urging affected residents’ to complain regularly to BANES Environmental Protection Team who can be reached via Council Connect. It is really important that there is a body of officially recorded complains that can be referred to in any enforcement proceedings.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Comments on the proposed Code of Best Practice for Licenced Premises

Code of Best Practice can be found on the Council's website at www.bathnes.gov.uk/licensing-consultation

We would suggest the following additions

1.            The Licencing Policy includes numerous references to risk assessment and we believe the Code should offer some guidance about how these should be done

2.            It is important to make door security staff feel part of the team and to ensure they understand the ethos you are trying to promote

3.            Give the nearest noise sensitive premises a contact number so that they can call to alert you to the fact that nuisance is occurring

4.            Hold regular meetings with your local residents’ association to discuss your future plans and hear their concerns.


5.            Have the duty manager regularly go outside the premises to see and hear what it looks and sounds like to passers-by and neighbours

Comments on draft Statement of Licensing Policy

It is a requirement of the Licensing Act 2003 that every Licensing Authority produces a "Statement of Licensing Policy" which explains how it will exercise its licensing functions under the Act.


A copy of the proposed Statement can be found on the Council's website at www.bathnes.gov.uk/licensing-consultation.

Our comments on the proposed statement are as follows:


We think the introduction should include a statement explicitly acknowledging the role of the local authority in balancing the legitimate aspirations of business in the Night Time Economy with the rights of residents in the areas where they operate

Paragraph 2.4 says “It is expected that when promoting low priced alcohol, all premises will be considerate of the effect such promotions are having on our large student population, as well as being mindful of the negative effect promotions aimed at females often have.” We are not clear what effect the Licencing Authority expects this to make in practice? How do they expect premises who had read this sentence to behave differently from premises that had not?

Paragraph 3.6 is, as drafted, very defensive. We believe this policy statement ought to include a statement of when the BANES will use its new status as an interested party not just when you will not.

Paragraph 6.7 I; is far too prescriptive particularly in relation to the Environmental Protection Act. There are a number of situations in which noise generated by licensable activities is significantly undermining the licencing objectives but cannot be effectively dealt with by the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act for instance when the noise is regular but intermittent or the noise level is not above statutory limits but is still causing nuisance. In these situations it is necessary that the licencing authority act to support the objectives being undermined and officers and members should have the freedom under this policy to make that judgement.

Paragraph 17.2. How will the Licencing Authority encourage all the excellent things mentioned in this paragraph? For this to be meaningful, not just motherhood and apple pie, there must be some reference to mechanisms?

Paragraph 17.3. Whom does the licencing authority see as its key partners? What form will these partnerships take for instance does the policy envision formal partnering agreements and structures?

Paragraph 21.2. We see no justification for enforcement being graduated; particularly when a premise has been in business for some time there is no excuse for breaches particularly “minor” ones. Enforcement is a major issue for residents; examples of failures to comply are far too frequent suggesting premises do not respect the current enforcement policy. Enforcement resources are very limited which means warnings and cautions are often not followed up effectively.

Paragraph 21.4. What is the Authority’s policy on the level of resourcing it will provide for enforcement activities requiring the involvement of BANES officers? What is its policy on out of hour provisioning?

Paragraph 35.5. As a statement of policy this is very unclear.

Section 36 focusses primarily on harm to children on licenced premises. The policy needs to acknowledge harm potential off site for example children whose sleep is disturbed by rowdy drinkers, exposure to drugs paraphernalia, exposure to advertising in premises window and street flyers which use foul language or glorify the consumption of alcohol and drunkenness.

Section 37.1. The policy statement needs to recognise that it is often a very daunting prospect for residents to approach the proprietors of licenced premises with complains. The policy should include referring complainants to organisations that could help them in approaching proprietors, such as residents’ associations, or the licensing authority itself being more proactive in acting as a mediator.

One of the frustrations objectors often experience is that applicants make assertions about how their business will be run or promises about what they will do which the committee acknowledge has influenced their decision but which do not or cannot get turned into conditions on the licence. It would be useful if the licencing authority maintained a register of these influential assertion and promises so that at subsequent hearings the committee can get a sense of the integrity of the applicant.

Other authorities when making CCTV a condition of a licence go beyond specifying the number and siting of cameras and specify minimum technical standards that must be met.

The policy should include a commitment about how quickly applications will go up on the council’s web site.