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Agenda item

Dirty Martini, 74 Upper Street, N1 0NY - Premises licence variation

Minutes:

The Licensing Officer reported that, since the report had been written, the Noise Officer had withdrawn proposed conditions on pages 162 and 163 of the agenda.  The Noise Officer drew attention to the fact that her suggested amendment to condition 4 on page 163 should actually be an amendment to existing noise condition 3 (page 162).

 

The Sub-Committee noted that no representation had been received from the Police.

 

The Licensing Authority’s representative drew the Sub-Committee’s attention to the fact that the premises was located in a cumulative impact area.

 

A local Ward councillor, representing residents, stated that he had made a written representation, which had been circulated with the agenda, He said that residents were most concerned about this application to extend hours in premises in a sensitive part of St Mary’s Ward. Local residents and the community lived precariously. The difficult history of the previous premises had eroded the welllbeing and safety of residents. The attempt made by the applicant to rebut the assumptions associated with the premises being located in a cumulative impact area was valiant, but did not rebut the concerns about the additional hours being sought.

 

In response to a question from the applicant’s representative,  the Licensing Officer confirmed that a resident who had submitted a written representation had authorised his flatmate to speak on his behalf. This resident described the geography of the site, describing it as a unique place, with St Alban’s Place forming a tunnel through from Upper Street.  He described the area as “already unsafe” and that an extension in operating hours would increase the numbers of people in the vicinity and anti-social behaviour.  Another resident said how dismayed she was to see this new application, having spent two years complaining about the activities of the former premises.  The proposed change from midnight to 2.00am made this a club.  Residents had to listen to a lot of noise at weekends. Even though security staff were present, there appeared to be no change in the volume of anti-social behaviour.

 

The applicant’s representative stated that the premises were an example of how  a cumulative impact policy worked and would work into the future.  The previous operator had been removed and a sympathetic operator was now in place.  The applicant had traded at the premises over the  past 17 months, including a number of TENS, without any complaints. When the cumulative impact policy had been introduced into Islington’s Licensing Policy, the premises had been open until 2.00am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday without adding to the cumulative impact in the area.  He added that the current and proposed operation of the premises would not impact on the local area. There were no Police representations, which was remarkable, given the previous history of the premises and crime statistics for the area.  In response to representations from residents about the likelihood of more people being drawn to the area, he said that entry to the premises would be restricted after midnight. People would be able to stay in Dirty Martini and would not have to migrate to other premises, keeping them in this safe environment.  A dispersal policy was in action. The applicant had also agreed additional conditions  to restrict capacity after 1.00am and to employ additional SIA supervisors on Fridays and Saturday nights. An existing condition on the licence, condition 3 on page 154 of the agenda, made it the sole responsibility of one of the SIA supervisors to control the entrance to St Alban’s Place and to ensure the prohibition of smoking in the entrance to St Alban’s Place.

 

The applicant stated that he took on board residents’ complaints. On taking over the premises, he had contacted the Police and local residents. The rear lane was patrolled by SIA supervisors attached to the premises and had improved and impacted on .crime reduction.  More people would not be attracted to the premises or area as it would be clear that there would be no entry after midnight.  Security staff remained until all patrons had left the premises.

 

The applicant’s representative reiterated that the Police had not submitted a representation and that the Noise Team had withdrawn their representation. He noted that the Licensing Authority’s representation on page 160 of the agenda included some positive comments about the lack of complaints about the premises.  He noted that the Chief Executive Officer at the premises had written to Councillor Poole in response to his representations about the premises and to the residents but had received no response.  The concerns expressed by residents were understandable given the historical problems with the previous premises. However, there had been no complaints under the new operators. He noted that one of the resident representations claimed that it would be unlawful for the Council to agree this variation and that the verbal representations by another resident related to the historical operation of the premises.  Other residents who had made representations lived further away.  He asked the Sub-Committee to make their decision based on the evidence of the track record of the applicant.  He highlighted the independent reports from Adrian Studd, an independent licensing consultant, and RBA Acoustics, in relation to the proposed variation, both of which had based their reports  on the misunderstanding that the variation to extend hours to 2.00am was for Thursday to Saturdays, when  in fact the variation was actually for Friday and Saturday only. Nevertheless, both reports suggested that the new operation of the premises was unlikely to impact on the cumulative impact and Adrian Studd had stated that “..there are features of the operation of this premises that do make it exceptional”. The conditions applied to the licence would address any concerns about noise and the control of people in the area.

 

A member of the Sub-Committee asked about the applicant’s social corporate responsibility. The applicant stated that they worked with the Police and had attempted to work with the neighbours to these premises. They ran a bar in Covent Garden, with residents living above, with whom they discussed concerns. They made themselves available 24/7 and aimed to do the same here.  Regular communication was key.

 

A member of the Sub-Committee asked for an example of how the operators worked with local residents.  The applicant cited an example of their premises in Covent Garden, which had six apartments above, valued from £2 to £6m.  One of the residents of one of the apartments had complained about noise and, in response, the operators had employed a sound technician to identify the source of the noise.  It transpired that the noise emanated from another apartment.

 

A member of the Sub-Committee commented that Islington residents tended to live side-by-side.  She noted that Covent Garden was an affluent area. She asked whether local people were employed by the operators.  The applicant replied that they operated premises in areas such as Cardiff and Clapham and worked with neighbours, with no regard for monetary wealth of local residents.  The important thing was how everyone could live together. The applicant confirmed that locals were employed in their premises.

 

A member of the Sub-Committee asked if the premises was a bar, not exclusively table service, and with some vertical drinking? He also asked of there was a condition attached to the licence which precluded vertical drinking after midnight.  The applicant confirmed that there was not such a condition.  The applicant was asked the purpose of the TEN on 3 June 2017. The applicant said that it was not for a particular event, but just to extend hours.  The member of the Sub-Committee queried whether that event had been for the pre-publicised event and the applicant’s representative confirmed that it had not.  A further question was asked of the applicant about how events involving extended hours were publicised.  The applicant said that these types of events were held over Christmas, birthday parties and other special occasions.  They never worked with promoters.

 

A member of the Sub-Committee queried whether a different clientele might come to  Dirty Martini after midnight from other premises, especially if they knew that the premises would be open until 2.00am.  The applicant’s representative said that there had been no complaints on the occasions when TENs had operated at the premises and the applicant was not seeking to attract people to the premises after midnight. The applicant’s representative replied that those types of people were seeking out later-licensed premises and reiterated that there had been no complaints during the times when TENs had operated at the premises.  The Sub-Committee member suggested that if an area had a cluster of late night premises, people would be more likely to go there. The applicant’s representative said that the operator was not seeking additional customers but to allow them to stay on after 1.00am.  The applicant added that they operated a strict door policy and there would be no guarantee that people arriving up to midnight would be allowed in.

 

In summary, one of the residents maintained that there had been no outreach to neighbours of the premises and that she had received a letter from them only in the previous week.  They were not sympathetic to the needs of their neighbours and promoted events at the premises widely. She was on their mailing list.  She maintained that there would be an increase in crime and anti-social behaviour if hours were extended.

 

The applicant’s representative congratulated the Council on its Cumulative Impact Policy. However, to moved forward, it was important to recognise that, if this variation was agreed, it would encourage improvement in the local area and for local residents.. If the variation application was agreed under the Council’s Licensing policy and with the evidence submitted, it was “not likely” to add to the cumulative impact in the area. There has been no complaints when TENs had operated in the premises and the noise report from RBA Acoustics and Adrian Studd, the independent licensing consultant, confirmed this.

 

 

RESOLVED:

That the application for a premises licence variation in respect ofDirty Martini, 74 Upper Street, London, N1 0NY, be refused.

 

REASONS FOR DECISION

The Sub-Committee listened to all of the evidence and submissions and read all the material. The Sub-Committee reached their decision having given consideration to the Licensing Act 2003, as amended, and its regulations, the national guidance and the Council’s Licensing Policy.

 

The Sub-Committee took into consideration Licensing Policy 2.  The premises fall within the Angel and Upper Street cumulative impact area.  Licensing policy 2 created a rebuttable presumption that applications for new premises licences that were likely to add to the existing cumulative impact would normally be refused, unless an applicant can demonstrate why the operation of the premises involved would not add to the cumulative impact or otherwise impact adversely on the promotion of the licensing objectives.

 

The Sub-Committee noted the supporting evidence set out in the Licensing Policy for the Angel and Upper Street area. The Sub-Committee noted that the area still featured as a late night alcohol related crime and disorder hotspot. The Sub-Committee further noted that it was recorded that the area had reached saturation and any further expansion in the night time economy should not adversely affect the quality of life for residents.

 

The Sub-Committee heard evidence from the interested parties how licensable activities in the area of the premises eroded safety and quality of life for residents. The Sub-Committee noted representations that there would be a huge difference on the impact to residents if licensable activities were extended to 02:00 hours.

 

The Sub-Committee noted the reports of Adrian Studd, independent licensing consultant, and RBA Acoustics. The Sub-Committee also noted that the Police had not made a representation and that the applicant had offered up a number of additional conditions.

 

The Sub-Committee noted the evidence of the applicant that there would be vertical drinking at the premises after midnight and continuing until 02:00 hours. The Sub-Committee were particularly concerned that this would lead to more intensive drinking in the cumulative impact area and that this would undermine the promotion of the licensing objectives.

 

The Sub-Committee noted that an extension of the hours of operation would lead to a cluster of late night venues in this part of the cumulative impact area. The Sub-Committee noted the proposed condition from the applicant that there would be no entry, or re-entry, to the premises after midnight and the submission from the applicant that they were not looking to attract new customers into the cumulative impact area after midnight.

 

However, the Sub-Committee were concerned that patrons would arrive at the premises shortly before midnight and that there would therefore be increased footfall and an additional impact in the cumulative impact area.

 

The Sub-Committee concluded that an extension of the hours of operation and the extended availability of alcohol for sale within the cumulative impact area would see an increase in public nuisance and impact on the promotion of the crime and disorder objective.

 

The Sub-Committee noted that no complaints had been received when the premises operated TENS, but the Sub-Committee were of the view that the proposed extended hours would add to the existing cumulative impact and would impact adversely on the promotion of the licensing objectives. The applicant failed to rebut the assumption that applications will normally be refused unless the applicant can demonstrate that there will be no adverse cumulative impact on the licensing objectives.

 

 

Supporting documents: