M'nuchah Bar, 392 Camden Road, N7 0SJ - Premises licence variation
The Chair of the Committee opened by asking the licensing officer for any additional information that had become available since the publication of the agenda. In response, the Licensing Officer informed the Sub Committee that there had been a slight typo on the opening time on the variation application in the agenda pack and corrected it to 10am each day. The Licensing Officer also reported that the applicant had now agreed to all the police conditions, but the representation had not been withdrawn.
When asked by the Committee to outline their representation, the Police informed members that they had been Informed by the applicant’s solicitor that the applicant did now accept the police conditions. However, the reason the responsible authority for policing hadn’t withdrawn their objection was because they hadn’t yet seen a hire agreement, to which they expressed hope that it was just an oversight. The Police also stated that while the applicant had completed box three on variation conditions, outlining activities, the responsible authority was still not able to understand specifically what the activities would entail. The responsible authority stated that the Sub Committee should only approve the licence if they were happy with the proposed use of the premises, in line with the conditions.
The Police went on to say that the engagement to date from the applicant had not been to the standard that they would expect and was not certain that the conditions proposed were proportionate or would best reflect the licensing objectives but was willing to listen to further clarifications / evidence.
When asked by the Committee to outline their representation, the Licensing Authority stated their objection remained as it stood in the published agenda pack. The main concern centred on the submitted fire risk assessment, which showed several deficiencies and added that the Licensing Authority had not seen anything to date to show that it had been rectified. There was also concern regarding electrical wiring and gas safety issues. These concerns were amplified by the premises being particularly large with residential units above, and that it would pose a danger to residents as well as customers. The Licensing Authority stated they too had no feedback from the applicants until today’s hearing and that the matter had been going on for some time, with the case itself, adjourned repeatedly.
The Chair of the Committee asked the Licensing Authority whether Building Control had been involved with the matter, to which the Licensing Authority stated that Building Control had not heard anything in respect of the application, but that the applicant would likely need a building inspector to approve any remedial, structural works and no evidence had been provided to date that could show this had been done.
When asked by the Sub-Committee to present their case, the Legal Representative for the applicant stated that the proposed conditions from the police had been accepted highlighted that the applicant had tabled two restrictive changes as part of the application – to remove the sale of alcohol off-premises and to reduce hours it can be sold. Permissive changes sought, included increasing the capacity to 190, to allow films to be shown, and live and recorded music. The reason given for requesting the license for recorded music on Sunday to commence from 9am was to enable churches who wish to use the event space to conduct sound checks before the main service.
The Legal Representative gave an overview of the business itself, outlining that since 2019 there had been renovations of the former bed and breakfast to where the premises could now operate as a part hotel, events space, creative lounge, and podcast studio. The Legal Representative stated that the applicant had a clear vision for the premises where businesses, charities and creatives would all be able to make use of the space. There was scope for private events, but the focus was not on being an alcohol led business.
The Legal Representative stated that they were of the knowledge that in the last month, the wiring had been tested by UK Power Networks and by the electrical provider. Gas and fire safety concerns had also been addressed. Regarding the building regulations, the Legal Representative stated that there had been no structural changes to walls / low bearing walls and added that there had been no formal representations by Building Control.
The Legal Representative acknowledged that engagement could be improved. They also cited Islington’s licensing policy in stating that the premises’ main focus meets the objectives of adding cultural value to the local area.
Regarding the resident representation from November regarding potential noise and drunkenness, the Legal Representative stated that it was understood that this was just a concern that it might happen, not that it was currently happening, and hoped that the proposal to stop the sale off premises and reduce the hours in which it was sold, was enough to allay the resident’s concerns.
When invited by the Legal Representative to add to their case to the Sub-Committee, the applicant informed members that the premises name, M’Nuchah, was a Hebrew word for rest. The applicant also stated that they had personally did a lot of work in the community and at Gracepoint. The applicant added that M’Nuchah was a place focused on community, which was completely different to former owners and the aim was to have a place that added value to the local area.
Councillor Staff thanked the applicant for their commitment to the area, stating that the proposed use appeared to be positive, but wanted clarification that if the Aparthotel was on the upper floors and the events space was on the lower floors, what would be the measures to mitigate noise transference between the spaces. The applicant responded, noting that measures were in place, that alcohol was not taken upstairs, and the two spaces were completely separated.
In response to further questions from the Sub-Committee, the applicant confirmed that there would be a designated premises supervisor on-site; the responsibility held by the Head of Operations will transferring over to himself and the Facilities Manager and both were in the process of obtaining the necessary certification. There would be two people on site Monday to Sunday and an Event Supervisor who would be on duty, 24 hours a day. Private security would also be present for events.
Councillor Croft asked the applicant what kind of assurances they could provide that they would engage with responsible authorities. The applicant responded stating that they had regular meetings with New Scotland Yard, and that the space would be open to young people who may otherwise be on the streets. The applicant also outlined that they had done a lot of community engagement more broadly.
In response to questions from the Chair of the Sub-Committee regarding what events would take place at the venue, the applicant informed members that this would include baby showers, business events, birthday parties, conferences, and weddings.
The applicant noted that the business attracted a higher standard of patronage and background checks were conducted on those hosting. The applicant cited an example of a church with a congregation of fifteen that had recently begun at the venue and another church starting in June. The alcohol licence would only be needed for the events (birthday parties, weddings).
When asked what arrangements were in place for the current events where alcohol was sold, the applicant responded stating that they do not sell alcohol. Supervision and SIA licenced security would be provided for every event, and this would include female security officers too, should female patrons need to be searched.
The Chair of the Sub-Committee noted that the application had come to committee on several occasions and that they needed tangible evidence regarding the safety aspects of the building. The point was made to the applicant that should any issues arise regarding the operation of the premises, questions would be asked of the authority that granted the licence, and that the Sub-Committee needed to be convinced that they could trust that the applicant would engage with responsible authorities at any given time. The applicant responded stating that email threads existed showing co-operation but acknowledged more could be done. The legal representative requested a condition regarding building regulation.
The Licensing Officer clarified that the case had not always adjourned because of procedure, the last time was due to the train strike.
In summing up, the Police stated that they appreciated the engagement the applicant had with Scotland Yard and in the London Borough of Croydon, and was grateful that the conditions had been accepted, but after listening to representations stayed with the initial representation concerning the lack of engagement. The Police stated that they were not against the variation, but that it needed to be right for what the premises was, and the applicant needed to be accountable for the events that happened there.
In summing up, the Licensing Authority, noted that the Sub-Committee could put on a condition stating that the licence cannot be used until assurances had been provided.
The applicant told the Sub-Committee there was a designated area for smokers at the fence to the left-hand side of the premises on the side of Hillmarton Road and that smoke would not travel to neighbours. In response to concerns that the bar / kitchen equipment hadn’t been mapped out on the new plan, the applicant stated that was currently just an open space, mainly for aesthetics.
In summing up, the Legal Representative stated that they hoped the Sub-Committee could see the passion on the display potential addition to the cultural offer in Islington, and that they hoped M’Nuchah was the type of premises the Council would like to see more of.
1) That the application for the variation of a premises licence, in respect of M'nuchah Bar, 392 Camden Road, N7 0SJ, be granted to allow:-
a. To allow the sale of alcohol on the premises only; Monday to Saturday from 5pm to 11:30pm, and Sunday from 5pm to 11pm
b. To allow the playing of live music and films; Monday to Saturday from 11am to 11:30pm, and Sunday from 12pm to 11:30pm
c. To allow the playing of recorded music; Monday to Saturday from 11am to 11:30pm, and Sunday from 9am to 11:30pm
d. To allow late night refreshment from Monday to Saturday between 11pm and 11:30pm.
e. Opening hours from 10am to 11:30pm Monday to Sunday
2) That conditions outlined in appendix 3 and detailed on page 67 to 70 of the agenda, with the exception of Condition 5, shall be applied to the licence, with the additional conditions as follows: The premises shall not be used for licensable activities until the applicant has submitted to the Licensing Authority a fire risk assessment and safety certificates relating to electricity, gas and building regulations, which have been signed off in writing.be applied to the licence.
REASONS FOR DECISION
The Sub-Committee listened to all the evidence and submissions and read all the material. The Sub-Committee reached the decision having given consideration to the Licensing Act 2003, as amended, and its regulations, the national guidance and the Council’s Licensing Policy.
Two local resident objections had been received, but no resident attended. There had been three representations made by the responsible authorities, but Trading Standards and the Noise team had withdrawn their representations on agreement of conditions. Conditions had been agreed with the police, but the police representation remained because of concerns at the lack of engagement and uncertainty as to how the premises would operate with those conditions. The Licensing Authority made a representation raising concerns about public safety.
The Sub-Committee heard evidence that the event space on the ground floor was completely separate from the Aparthotel, and alcohol would not be taken up to the Aparthotel. The ground floor would be used for events such as weddings, baby showers, birthday parties and conferences, however other than events, the applicant envisaged community activities including a church on Sundays and hoped it would be a hub for community. The applicant emphasised that he had worked with Gracepoint, charities and Pentonville Prison, he was also regularly meeting with New Scotland Yard concerning knife crime and he hoped to hold community meetings and take young people off the streets.
The applicant said that he needed the premises licence only for events. He was undertaking training as a DPS and obtaining a personal licence as was the facilities manager. There would be two such people in attendance Monday to Sunday and the events manager would be there 24 hours. There would be security at all times. He said that he had been in correspondence by email with responsible authorities for some time before the hearing, although the responsible authorities could not confirm this. The representative said that he was committed to dialogue with responsible authorities.
The Sub-Committee concluded that pursuant to Licensing Policy 8, the applicant had in fact implemented advice given by responsible authorities.
The Sub-Committee was concerned that there should be compliance with Licensing Policy 14 on risk assessments. This is a matter of public safety and therefore added an additional condition requiring fire risk assessments and safety certificates to be provided.
In addition, the Sub-Committee took into account the nature of some of the community groups and noted that conditions dealt with seizure and storage of drugs and the need to prevent the entry of drugs into the premises.
The Sub-Committee was satisfied that granting the variation to the premises licence with the additional condition, and on the hours granted, was proportionate and appropriate to the promotion of the licensing objectives and in the public interest.