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Agenda item

Application to Vary a Premises Licence - The Cornerhouse, 1 High Street, Sedgefield

Minutes:

Councillors J Blakey, G Darkes and J Maitland

 

The Committee considered a report of the Senior Licensing Officer regarding an application to vary a premises licence in respect of The Cornerhouse, 1 High Street, Sedgefield (for copy see file of Minutes).

 

A copy of the application and supporting information had been circulated to Members.

 

Members were advised that seventeen representations had been received including one from a Responsible Authority, namely Environmental Health. One representation from an Other Person had been withdrawn after receiving clarification of the details of the variation application. The remaining sixteen representations remained which related to the four licensing objectives, copies of which had been circulated with the report.

 

Additional information had been received from Environmental Health which had been circulated to all parties prior to the meeting and the Officer was in attendance to play the recordings referred to in the report.

 

Mrs Gallimore, Environmental Health Officer addressed the Sub-Committee and indicated that the playing of films outside would cause a public nuisance.

 

She referred to a film event which was held on 2 August 2018 where she carried out some noise monitoring. She arrived at 6.55 pm and the movie started at 8.00 pm. The soundtrack to the movie was played on a loop for an hour and 5 minutes before the start of the movie. The first recording played was taken in the rear bedroom with the windows closed then the windows open. Recording three was then played which was taken inside the rear bedroom of a property on North End with the windows open which was the soundtrack to the movie played on a loop.

 

Mrs Gallimore believed that it was unreasonable for residents to have to hear this 12 times a year. She believed that the events would take place over the summer months and therefore the 12 film events would be over a relatively short period of time which would interfere with the residents use and enjoyment of their home and suggested that the films be played indoors only.

 

Councillor Darkes sought clarification on the decibel levels. Mrs Gallimore responded that the decibel levels were shown in the table of the report, but the clip shown was 42.8 decibels. Mrs Gallimore was asked if the noise levels were acceptable. Mrs Gallimore responded that the World Health Organisation recommend that 40 decibels inside would cause annoyance.

 

Mrs Gallimore confirmed that the recordings were taken 6 metres from the boundary of The Cornerhouse.

 

Mrs Gallimore was then asked to play recording one again and she confirmed that the bass could be heard during the recording and that the film finished at 9.40 pm. Mrs Gallimore explained that if these events were allowed to happen she believed it would be a statutory nuisance. She went on to explain that she would firstly have to decide whether the noise associated with the showing of the film was a nuisance and if it was, she would then serve an abatement notice.

 

The Applicant asked Mrs Gallimore what the decibel reading was when the windows were closed. Mrs Gallimore confirmed that it was 38.8 decibels but it was audible in every room in the house, and 40 decibels was a guideline and was not the only measure of noise nuisance.

 

The Applicant referred to washing machines being able to reach 48 decibels which was louder than the film.

 

Mrs Gallimore was asked if an individual’s quality of life in the house would be affected and if the noise from the film was similar annoyance to a washing machine. Mrs Gallimore responded that a washing machine would not go on for an hour and forty minutes so they could not be compared.

 

Mr Carr an Other Person thanked the Sub-Committee for the opportunity to speak. He indicated that The Cornerhouse was a Grade II listed building in a conservation area in the centre surrounded by old properties. Mr Carr then referred to the plan of the premises and the outside area to the front of the building which was a change of use.

 

The Council’s Solicitor advised Mr Carr that he could refer to the plan and raise concerns but consent of use was not for consideration during the hearing today but no objections were raised to him circulating the additional photographs.

 

Mr Carr circulated a copy of the photographs to the Applicant and Members of the Sub-Committee and indicated that it was a busy road junction and was unsuitable for drinking at night.  He referred to the photographs submitted in support of his representation which showed people leaving at late hours on various dates and times indicated in the papers.

 

Mr Carr indicated that he assumed the tables would not be there but the Applicant had included the area to the front in his application. He was concerned that there would be more activity into early in the morning and that the tables were still there this morning. He concluded by wishing the Applicant success with his business.

 

Mrs Wright an Other Person indicated that she did not live right next to the public house but on the 2 August 2018 the noise from the film was audible in every room in her house with the windows open and closed which caused a nuisance.

 

She referred to the seats to the front of the public house which were a public nuisance and she was concerned that school children use the pathway while patrons are sat outside having a drink. Patrons used filthy language and it was intimidating to walk past and if you said anything you get a mouthful of abuse.

 

She then referred to a bad experience with patrons herself but this was under different management. Mrs Wright referred to the 25 August 2018 when a resident had to call the police due to loud music as there was no telephone number to contact the premises direct unless you physically went to the premises, so they had no choice but to telephone the police. The noise doesn’t stop when the premises close as patrons walk past her house and say goodnight and arrange for lifts or taxis, they urinate in the village and on the police station steps, she could see this happening as she lived opposite. She felt that she could not challenge patrons as they were under the influence of alcohol and were abusive and aggressive which was a big concern.

 

There had been a couple of incidents where they heard noise which was unacceptable as they could hear the noise all around their home which was affecting the quality of their lives.

 

Mrs Wright continued that the Environmental Health Officer mentioned quality of life and she stated that their quality of life would suffer, and they were suffering as her husband was ill and went to bed early and did not want to listen to the noise of films and patrons leaving the premises. She felt there was no consideration for residential properties in the area. People were not well, and some have children who live on the door step of where the entertainment happens which filled them with dread of 12 outdoor events in the summer months. The films were shown when they wanted to be in their gardens and another concern was that she believed that house prices would deteriorate if the variation was granted. It was a pretty village and people took pride in their homes. It is fine to say it is about regeneration and to make it nice for people to come to the village, but it was difficult to see this when it was to the detriment of residents and people’s health in some cases.

 

She referred to the noise levels and it should not matter if the windows are open or closed and they should not have to close their windows when an event was taking place as some residents liked to leave their windows open all day and night.

 

The Chairman asked the Licensing Officer if Durham Constabulary had made representations regarding the application. The Senior Licensing Officer confirmed that there was nothing from Durham Constabulary.

 

Councillor Wills speaking on behalf of Sedgefield Town Council stated that she had been a resident in Sedgefield for over 40 years. Sedgefield have a lot of entertainment and they supported new enterprises.

 

She indicated that the Cornerhouse is adjacent to and adjoins residential properties and some of the properties butt up to the beer garden. She also indicated that some properties were across the road, but they could still hear the noise but not as intense.

 

The lady that Mrs Gallimore dealt with was very close to the premises and there were lots of reasons why noise was a public nuisance and it was not just about decibels. The licence as it stands is very generous and the applicant was now seeking outdoor use, Environmental Health had submitted a report expressing concerns and no one had written in support of the application and the Town Council did not support the application. The new plan of the premises shows an additional area which is the courtyard and the beer garden which had previously not been part of the premises. The application did not make it clear whether the area is to be used for the variation only or whether for off-sales. This information should appear on the form as the guidance states that the application should be clear.

 

Councillor Wills continued by stating that the outdoor area was already used for films and the showing of sporting events without permission and cheering could be heard at the other end of the village half a mile away. She firmly endorsed the report of Environmental Health, but this was based on a film event only and the televisions could be just as loud. There was also televisions in the shelters in the beer garden which were fixed as there was nothing which applies to the use of televisions outdoors.

 

The Applicant had not made any attempts to try and control the use of noise and the consumption of alcohol and the Applicant should offer measures to minimise the impact which they had not seen and was why the variation application should be refused due to public nuisance, noise and unsocial behaviour.

 

The Senior Licensing Officer advised the Sub-Committee that there were no outdoor activities on the current licence and that televisions were not regulated entertainment so were not part of the premises licence.

 

Mrs Gallimore confirmed that the use of television is not a licensable activity but residents could make a complaint regarding the noise levels and Environmental Health could then establish whether it was a statutory nuisance via monitoring.

 

Mrs Swindale, an Other Person stated that what the Applicant was doing was fun for Sedgefield but the business model was not right. She could see the commercial benefits so it was not all negative but there was a lack of engagement and the residents had to suffer the consequences. She was disappointed that the Police had not raised concerns as the residents of Sedgefield had suffered anti-social behaviour. She acknowledged that The Cornerhouse had inherited ‘riff raff’ and the Applicant was trying to do a good job to address this but the ‘riff raff’ remained. The seating area to the front was intimidating to walk past and there were children and elderly residents in the area and more needed to be done.

 

She then referred to transport in Sedgefield which was an issue on an evening and there was a lack of taxis which meant that people were wandering around Sedgefield. She thought keeping noise in house would be a more favourable option. The premises does have a place but noise outside the premises does not have a place, they do need entertainment but outside the premises was not the best way forward.

 

Councillor Blakey sought clarification on the location of the outside screen to show the films. The Applicant confirmed that the screen was located on the right hand side next to the play area.

 

Mr Wilkes, the Applicant then addressed the Sub-Committee in relation to the variation of the premises licence. He stated that the site had over £200,000 investment which had created 14 jobs and they wanted to work with residents. The premises did have an historical issue with patrons which had diminished and they worked closely with the Police. The Police had recently undertook a raid on all premises in Sedgefield and nothing was found in both of his premises.

 

He then referred to the structures in the beer garden which were temporary and he did not wish to upset residents due to noise and affect their quality of life. They had submitted a previous application which they withdrew after consultation then re-submitted with amendments. The Applicant indicated that they could reduce the times in the beer garden and the showing of films could be by the use of headphones. He explained that the beer garden does contain patrons and if everyone went to the front of the premises for a cigarette this would create problems in that area. He then referred to the noise associated with the bins and advised that following feedback, they now emptied the bins during the day. All drinks outside were served in polycarbonate containers and they were happy to reduce the hours for the beer garden to 10.00 pm and the use of headphones for the showing of films. He advised the Sub-Committee that he film that was recently shown was under a temporary event notice and that the premises did have a telephone and the residents could be furnished with the number. With regard to noise from regulated entertainment he indicated that he was happy to install a noise limiter device.

 

Councillor Blakey sought clarification if children were allowed in the beer garden on an evening. The Applicant confirmed that children are allowed in the restaurant until 9.00 pm, after 9.00 pm children under 19 were asked to leave.

 

Councillor Blakey then referred to the noise when the world cup was on and commented that you could not have earphones for a sporting event.

 

The Applicant responded that the world cup was a large sporting event and that noise was part of the experience but the volume would not be at the same level as films. This was their first event and they were learning and they propose to use headphones for films in future to alleviate concerns.

 

Councillor Darkes referred to the temporary sheds and sought clarification on their capacity. The Applicant advised that each shed held eight people which had a table for food and a television which was used not just for sport but the likes of ‘CBeebies’ which could be shown and some people watched the royal wedding in the sheds.

 

The Chairman asked if smoking was permitted in the beer garden and children’s play area. The Applicant confirmed that there was no smoking in these areas. They wanted the premises to be a family friendly pub which was taking time as there was still issues but more and more families were coming to the pub and they were getting to where they wanted to be. They had taken a huge step forward and the residents were using the pub.

 

Councillor Blakey asked how they dealt with bad language. The Applicant responded that they are not saying that it did not happen but they were monitoring it and had barred a number of patrons and they were continuously trying to keep the standards high. They had concentrated internally but would look at outside and would manage it as part of the day to day running of the business. If there were school children walking past on a Friday and this was happening, they would look into this and manage it. He also commented that they could furnish residents with their telephone number.

 

Councillor Blakey asked if they worked with local residents to try and mediate. The DPS stated that they currently had 28 people barred for illicit substance abuse and a further 25 to 30 under serious caution and they had a zero-tolerance policy. They worked closely with the Police and had handed over some information and they were pushing for a family friendly environment and they did not encourage anti-social behaviour.

 

One of the residents indicated that there had been issues over the years but the last couple of years it had eased but she had noticed an increase in anti-social behaviour in the last couple of months, hence their concerns. They could not control what patrons did but they had to put up with it and some patrons couldn’t walk straight.

 

The DPS took the comments on board and reiterated that 40 people were under caution and they did their upmost to control patrons. He would ensure that it doesn’t happen again and that 90% of the patrons were acceptable but they did not serve anyone that was intoxicated. He referred to an incident on Saturday evening where they refused to serve an intoxicated man who had been to another establishment in the village. The Applicant indicated that they could only control their venues.

 

Councillor Blakey asked if they were part of ‘Pubwatch’.

 

The Applicant confirmed that they were part of Pubwatch which met the first Thursday of every month.

 

Mrs Wright reiterated her concerns to the Applicant and stated that the increase in anti-social behaviour had occurred in the last few months.

 

The Applicant stated that they now have people who want to come to their premises and be social and any bad behaviour they intervene. It was difficult to define where the patrons had come from and the Cornerhouse staff would have refused them service. The Applicant suggested that they could take any information to the Police at the Pubwatch meetings.

 

Mr Carr stated that there had been an increase in noise and disturbance between 12.00 midnight and 12.30 am, details of which he had submitted with his objection to the variation. He stated that the tables and facilities to sit on and climb on were a big problem and Durham County Council had issued an order for the removal of the tables and chairs by 30 August 2018, but the tables were still in situ this morning.

 

The Council’s Legal Officer advised Mr Carr that this information had not been raised before today and was not to be referred to.

 

The Applicant confirmed that he had received the letter from the Council and he had a meeting yesterday to discuss the issue. He stated that they had inherited the tables and chairs and they had just re-painted them. He advised the Sub-Committee that they would be taking down the tables and chairs and submitting a planning application to have collapsible tables and chairs so there would be no street furniture in situ at the end of the night.

 

Mr Carr responded that he had not submitted the email from the Highways department prior to the hearing as he thought the tables would have gone. He stated that he was not aware that they were going to be removed but this was good news.

 

The Applicant was asked to clarify if the televisions in the sheds had restricted volume. The residents then stated that anti-social behaviour in the village and the lack of action had caused some of the residents to suffer with depression. The Applicant was asked how he could assure residents that they can get the balance right so that it was great to live in Sedgefield but the lights were out at a certain time and that the volume on the televisions needed to be limited.

 

The Applicant responded that house prices, the statistics showed that where there was no public houses, house prices diminished, he then referred to the refurbishment of the Pickled Parsons and he hoped that house prices would have increased. He then referred to anti-social behaviour and 200 youths on the green which resulted in The Cornerhouse losing money, prior to the incident they were just breaking even, so they needed the anti-social behaviour to be resolved. They needed to attract people to enable the business to thrive and have facilities to attract people, but he accepted that there was a balance.

 

The parties were then invited to sum up.

 

Mrs Gallimore indicated that she had already addressed the issues regarding noise.

 

Councillor Wills commented that this was a very good open debate and stated that unless any measures were put into place to control the issues then it would not get any better. She had not seen any attempt to put measures in place, so did residents have to wait and allow things to continue until someone had suffered before something could be done and indicated that prevention was the best medicine. She indicated that even with the use of headphones there was still going to be people shouting so her view had not changed.

 

Councillor Blakey asked the Environmental Health Officer if she was happy with the proposal to use headphones.

 

The Environmental Health Officer responded that it was not part of the application, but the use of headphones would minimise the impact, people would be listening through the headphones but there would still be some noise from people shouting. She indicated that she would carry out some monitoring if a further event was held. She then referred to some venues offering silent discos where people wear headphones, but she was not aware of how successful these were in reducing noise and if patrons had the same experience.

 

The Chairman sought clarification on the 10.00 pm finish. The Environmental Health Officer confirmed that after 10.00 pm this would have a negative impact on residents due to the proximity of the beer garden to the houses which was reasonable as there were other outdoor areas.

 

The DPS responded that they already had precautionary measures in place where they shut down the beer garden at 9.00 pm to reduce the space for staffing purposes and only have the court yard open to help staff enforce the rules.

 

Councillor Blakey asked if they had a physical barrier to close off the beer garden.

 

The Applicant confirmed that it was a chain and notices.

 

Councillor Wills commented that this area was not part of the licence and could be changed so there was no safeguard.

 

The Applicant indicated that they would be willing to have a condition for the use of headphones and the beer garden to close at a certain time.

 

Mr Carr stated that the Applicant had indicated that they would restrict the use of the beer garden to 9.00 pm but noise was still generated externally as patrons moved to the court yard which created just as much noise, so it was just moved from one area to another. Noise echoed and most outdoor areas were prohibited after 10.00 pm.

 

The Applicant stated that the courtyard was already licensed and in response to a question from the Council’s Legal Officer confirmed that the courtyard was used as a smoking area with 3 or 4 picnic benches.

 

The Applicant then stated that he was more than happy to reduce the hours of the beer garden and for the use of headphone during films and for a noise limiter to be installed for any regulated entertainment.

 

At 11.45 am the Sub-Committee Resolved to retire to deliberate the application in private. After re-convening at 12.30 pm the Chair delivered the Sub-Committee’s decision.

 

In reaching their decision the Sub-Committee had considered the report of the Senior Licensing Officer and additional information, and the written and verbal representations of the Applicant, Responsible Authorities and other persons. Members had also taken into account the Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy and Section 182 Guidance issued by the Secretary of State.

 

Resolved: That the Premises Licence be varied to include the Provision of Films as a licensable activity as follows:-

 

Activity

 

Days & Hours

 

The Provision of Films Indoors and Outdoors with no more than 12 outdoor Films per year.

Outdoor films will only be shown with the use of headphones.

 

 

Monday to Sunday 10:00-22:00

 

The Sub-Committee considered the conditions suggested within the Operating Schedule of the application and believed it was appropriate and proportionate to impose additional conditions upon the licence as follows:-

 

a)    Outdoor films will only be shown with the use of earphones.

 

b)    Indoor and Outdoor films will finish by 22:00 hours.

 

c)     The admission of children to films is to be restricted in accordance with the recommendations given either by a body designated under section 4 of the Video Recordings Act 1984 (currently the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)).

 

d)    Patrons must vacate the beer garden by 21.30 hours.

 

e)    A noise limiter will be installed on the premises for any regulated entertainment.

 

f)      The volume control on the televisions will be restricted to prevent noise nuisance.

 

g)    Bins and bottle bins shall not be emptied between 9pm and 8am each day.

 

h)    Children under the age of 18 will be off the premises by 9pm.

 

The Sub-Committee did not impose a condition relating to the access to the beer garden after 21.30 hours, but recommended that the Applicant fit a more appropriate barrier or gate, to prevent patrons jumping the barrier and accessing the beer garden after this time.

 

The Sub-Committee also recommended that the Applicant should get together with the residents to discuss issues as they arise, rather than allowing them to escalate.

 

The Applicant was reminded that the Environmental Health Team has offered to work with the Licence Holder to resolve the issues regarding noise levels.

Supporting documents:

 

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