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Thursday, 2 August 2018

The application for a variation to the license conditions at the Garfunkels premises at the Empire


We note that these premises fall within the area defined in the council’s cumulative impact policy.

We do not believe that this is a minor variation and therefore should not be dealt with under the minor variation procedures. The applicant refers to the removal of “historic conditions”. This phrase is normally used to describe conditions whose original purpose had been rendered irrelevant by the passage of time. This is very much not the case here.

The original the conditions referred to are:

1.       The premises are structurally adapted and bona fide used for or intended to be used for the purpose of habitually providing for the accommodation of persons frequenting the premises for substantial refreshment, to which the sale and supply of intoxicating liquor is ancillary.

This was intended to reflect the nature, intended and actual use of this unique building by ensuring that the drinking of alcohol was ancillary to providing other types of refreshment which has always been interpreted as the provision of food. This condition has also avoided these premises adding to the amount of vertical drinking in the cumulative impact zone and constrained its owners to trade in a way consistent with reducing the nuisance caused to neighbours who because of the nature of the building are very vulnerable to noise and disturbance in and around these premises. The nature of the building structure and use have not significantly changed since this condition was originally imposed and all the other reasons for having it still apply and have not been superseded by events.


These are large premises that are in very close proximity to noise vulnerable residential premises. Allowing increased vertical drinking will increase the number of people able to drink there and the amount of alcohol consumed. The licencing authority will also be aware that vertical drinking establishments in the city attract significantly more complaints of noise nuisance and increased levels of drink fuel anti-social behaviour and drink related accidents.

The Home Office Revised Guidance issued under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 (April 2018 section 10.23) states that with regard to large capacity “vertical drinking” premises “Previous research has demonstrated that the environment within such establishments can have a significant bearing on the likelihood of crime and disorder.”


2.       No off sales permitted.

These premises are entirely unsuitable for off sales. They are on an island site surrounded by a one way system. Through most of the week there is limited or no parking provision. There is already an issue with people parking in the access roads illegally and creating significant public nuisance. Off sales will generate more traffic in and out of the building increasing the potential for nuisance for neighbours and other businesses. There is already a problem with street drinking in this area and having an off license here is likely to exacerbate this.


We note that the applicant has offered no noise studies.


All this in itself would be enough for us to object to this application. However, these particular applicants have put into to public domain their plans for these premises, their management and business model which give further cause for concern.


They appear to intend that these premises should be operated by their pub division and branded as a pub. They are planning changes to premises which will incorporate large areas which they themselves designate as bars. They are planning changes to the premises to introduce large bar areas with limited seating and what seating is planned tends toward the type of primarily associated with vertical drinking such as high stools or soft seating around low tables.


For all these reason we object to the applicant’s request for the removal of conditions because we believe that their removal will lead to an increase of public nuisance both for the immediate neighbours and within the cumulative impact zone as a whole.


We would also contend that if the applicants publicly stated plans for these premises continue to be progress there should be a complete review of all the condition of this licence.


For the record we would of course support the proposed conditions relating to staff training and development.

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