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|They will spend £300,000 on the re-fit,
which will include removing the black paint and reverting to the Royal
The police asked for a further three months’ complete suspension (LuXe asked for only two months) for the re-fit and staff training.
The panel decided on three months from now, which will mean peace and quiet for residents over the summer months.
Use of the terrace - the licensing panel agreed to my plea for the alcohol licence to match their planning permission (no customer use at any time).
They will be allowed to have “incidental background music” – the legal requirement is for customers to be able to hold a normal conversation over it. Any live music must finish by 11pm.
I expressed concern over the future use of TENS (which allow later closing on a one-off basis, and which the Council and/or the police can object to, but which don’t allow for any public involvement).
Many residents will be very disappointed that LuXe wasn’t closed down completely. However, once the police had agreed to their gastro-pub proposal, the way the (national) legislation is drafted meant there was no possibility of this happening. So the Panel’s decision to bring forward the closing time on Sunday - Thursday to 11.30pm from LuXe’s original proposal of midnight (as agreed by the police), and getting confirmation about the terrace, are considerable improvements.
I am sure that the large number of objections which residents sent in to the Council played a great part in persuading LuXe’s management that radical changes were needed. In addition, these objections, and the strong personal testimony of the residents who spoke at the hearing, meant the Licensing Panel were persuaded to take a firm line.
Obviously, residents and the Plans Group will be monitoring what happens when the premises re-open – another review can be requested if problems reoccur.
When we looked at the situation in Loughton last November, there appeared to be no practical way of preventing Nu-Bar, LuXe and fifteen (York Hill) from carrying on as early-morning licensed venues - we have come a very long way in the right direction!
David Linnell, LRA Plans Group
didn’t the Council just close them down?
I’ve had an email from a resident who thought the Council should have shut down LuXe completely! If only it were that easy.
The Council are bound to apply the national legislation, which we (and our colleagues in the National Association of Residents Associations) have campaigned against vigorously.
Basically the national legislation favours the licensees. If the police – as they did – say that they think the new proposals are satisfactory then, had the Council completely removed the licence, LuXe would have appealed and would have won (probably with costs against the Council).
It can be immensely frustrating for Cllrs to take part in these reviews on this basis, but they have to act in a quasi-judicial way and follow the legislation. Unusually, the Panel went further than the agreement with the police by reducing the opening hours Sunday – Thursday, and firmly banning any use of the terrace by customers.
The residents who attended the meeting spoke from the heart, and expressed the frustration – and rage – felt by residents in general. So I expected people to feel that the managers of LuXe had “got away with it”. All I can say, from my experience of these cases is that, given the police’s attitude, we did better than I could have expected.
Another problem stemming from the national level is that the planning legislation and the licensing situation operate completely separately. However, this can also work to residents’ advantage, in that there are venues in the town which the Council has had to grant alcohol licences to, to after midnight, but where the planning permission for the premises limits opening to midnight at the latest. (There are moves to combine the two sets of legislation, but the danger would be that the weaker approach of the two is adopted, rather than the stronger.)
As to penalties, there may be a slight consolation in noting that they are having to raise £300,000 to re-fit the premises, and are losing 4 months income (they’ve been closed for a month, and have to stay closed for another three, not two as they asked for), and are facing a doubtful future – is there enough business in the High Road for yet another restaurant business?
If, when they re-open, residents start to suffer problems again, we will be ready to help organise another review of the licence – but I live in hope that we won’t have to.
David Linnell, LRA Plans Group