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Tuesday, 9 March 2010

King Edward's School - TARA response to latest develoments

TARA, some of whose members attended King Edward School, would like to see this important building restored and brought into productive use. However, with alcohol-fuelled disorder and noise, with littering, public vomiting and urination particularly on weekend nights still among their principal concerns city centre residents will be seeking assurances that the applicant can be held to his undertaking to create a high class ‘boutique hotel’ in the centre of our city and not another large scale stand-up drinking venue of the kind that has been so damaging to the city centre in the past.

The applicant seeks a C1 (hotel) consent. It seems inconceivable to us, however, once the costs of restoration are taken into account, that the applicant could operate a viable business with so limited a number of rooms and that, consequently, substantial support will be required from non-resident use of the bar and dining facilities on the ground floor. The applicant cites Robert Raikes House in Southgate, Gloucester, as an exemplar. This business, owned by the same applicant, a brewer, and also a conversion of an important historic building, has had the benefit of planning consent as a ‘pub with conversion of upper floors to hotel accommodation’ since 2003. It does not, however, offer rooms, does not claim to be a hotel and is not listed as offering accommodation by the Gloucester tourism office. It seems reasonable therefore to conclude that the King Edward School application is effectively, not for a hotel with ancillary bar and dining facilities but for a bar-pub to be named the King Edward Tavern with ancillary bedroom accommodation on upper floors which may never be realised. We have calculated, moreover, that if furniture indicated on plans were to be excluded from the dining, bar and ‘parlour’ facilities on the ground floor, and the bar enlarged, from 300 to 400 drinkers could be accommodated in the building. This has the potential to be a disaster for an area of the city centre already overloaded with drinkers at weekends.

Aware of the concerns of residents and visitors alike Bath has in recent years recognised the need to curtail the introduction of large new drinking establishments into the city centre. A few years ago the Bath and North East Somerset Community Safety and Drugs Partnership (CSDP) collated information from a variety of sources which demonstrated that in Bath city centre ‘a defined geographic and temporal area experiences a significantly greater degree of alcohol related crime and disorder than the remainder of the authority area’. The Council accordingly resolved, on September 13th 2007, that inclusion of a Cumulative Impact Policy (CIP) in the Statement of Licensing Policy was justified. In areas covered by the CIP, which remains in force and includes Broad Street and George Street, licence applicants must now demonstrate that they will not materially add to existing problems of alcohol-fuelled disorder in the city centre before being considered for a licence.

The applicant does make reference to the effect of the proposed change of use on existing residential amenity, citing inter alia BaNES Local Plan Policy D2 Para 6.3 (f) and acknowledges that there are people living in the immediate area. It is important to remember, however, that a large premises offering alcohol for sale in the city centre can seriously harm the amenity not only of local residents but all those both living in and visiting a much wider area.

Having previously been inclined to give the applicant’s stated intentions the benefit of the doubt in the hope of at last seeing this important building restored and put to good use TARA now believes, on the balance of the evidence available, that the principal intention is to create a large new drinking establishment in the city centre. On this basis we have no alternative but to OPPOSE this application.

We consider this an important and controversial application and ask that, if the Case Officer is minded to recommend consent, it should be referred to Committee for decision. We ask, however, that if consent is granted whether for a pub, bar, hotel or any combination of these, conditions such as the following be imposed to ensure that the applicant’s stated intentions are realised and the concerns of city centre residents recognised

1. Substantial food shall be available to order from 12.00 noon each day until 22.00 hours Monday to Saturday and 21.30 hours on Sunday.
2. Alcohol shall be cleared away from consumption areas (with the exception of bedrooms/suites) by 23.30 hours Monday to Saturday and 23.00 hours on Sunday.
3. There shall be seating provided at all times for not less than 28 persons in the area marked ‘bar’ on the plans, not less than 60 persons in the area marked ‘dining lounge’ on the plans, not less than 8 in the area marked ‘front parlour’ (north) and not less than 12 in the area marked ‘front parlour’ (south) on the plans, and the courtyard area at the rear be predominantly seating.
4. There shall be only one bar servery, as shown on the plans, and this bar servery shall not be increased in size.
5. The Broad Street terraces shall not be used for the sale or consumption of alcohol or for smoking.
6. Consumption of alcohol in the rear courtyard area shall cease at 22.00 hours nightly.

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