It is, however, the large block of tables in North Parade Buildings which is most objectionable. This amounts to a proposal to create a new business by taking over what is currently a rare residential enclave in the city centre. The proposal places a large number of tables within 2 metres of the windows of listed Georgian buildings that have limited ability to introduce soundproofing measures, particularly in hot weather. The applicant offers no comment on noise nor do they suggest any noise management or mitigation measures. As well as generating considerable noise a large number of tables and chairs will effectively block residents and their support networks from easy movement to and from their homes. Many residents are elderly and have mobility issues.
We note that disability groups have already highlighted the issues created for those they represent with the expansion of alfresco dining elsewhere in the city. This access issue would be unacceptable, even if the applicant has procedures in place to tightly control the behaviour of customers and keep them within the designated area.
The applicant has not outlined any such procedures and observation of other similar alfresco dining areas, licensed by BANES, suggest such procedures do not exist. This is all bad enough, but to suggest that residents would have to put up with this noise and obstruction from 9 in the morning until 11 at night is completely unreasonable. Would the end time, in fact, be 11pm because the tables would have to be cleared and that is a noisy process in itself?
As we have said we are sympathetic to the plight of local eateries in these exceptional times and understand that BANES is prepared to relax its standards and procedures to help. However, there still have to be limits. BANES has a duty of care to its residents and council taxpayers and it is our contention that granting this license would breach that duty.