Agenda item

DM/22/02292/VOC - 5 North Road, Durham, DH1 4SH

Variation of condition 2 of planning permission 4/99/00534/FPA to allow a change in opening hours.


The Senior Planning Officer, Lisa Morina (LM) gave a detailed presentation on the report relating to the abovementioned planning application, a copy of which had been circulated (for copy see file of minutes).  Members noted that the written report was supplemented by a visual presentation which included photographs of the site.  The application was for variation of Condition 2 of Planning Permission 4/99/00534/FPA to allow a change in opening hours and was recommended for approval, subject to the conditions as set out in the report.  The Senior Planning Officer (LM) noted a typographical error in paragraph 37 of the report, it should have read 2:00am rather than 22:00 hours.


The Chair thanked the Senior Planning Officer (LM) and asked Parish Councillor Susan Walker to speak on behalf of the City of Durham Parish Council who were objecting to the application.


Parish Councillor S Walker noted that the Parish Council, City of Durham Trust and Durham Constabulary all objected to the application and urged that it be refused.  She explained that the application was only at Committee as the premises had been operating unlawfully, being open 24 hours a day Monday to Thursday.  She stressed that we should not give in and regularise such behaviour, rather make a stand.


She noted that there had been valid reasons for the previous change of use application having restrictions on the hours of operation and she questioned the fitness of the management of the facility.  Parish Councillor S Walker noted the applicant’s Agent had identified other businesses were open at the proposed times and had put it that it was therefore ok for the gambling business to also operate at those times.  She explained that there were also 30 residents in nearby properties and were key receptors in terms of noise issues. 


She noted the Parish Council had welcomed the reduction in hours from 24 hours a day, however, it was felt the times should be in line with other businesses to restrict the impact on residents.  She added that Policy 29 of the CDP stated that all new development should minimise the impact upon nearby properties.  Parish Councillor S Walker noted CDP Policy 31 and the NPPF and DCNP noted all applications need to be in accordance with mitigating the impact and detriment of the health and wellbeing of residents.  She noted the business was a gambling establishment, alongside operating a number of sunbeds, and therefore was not promoting health and wellbeing.  She added that the original application for 24 hour use had been extremely concerning. 


Parish Councillor S Walker explained that it was felt that the trading hours as included in the application would impact upon vulnerable people leaving pubs at closing time, and also set an unwelcome precedent for further such applications.  She noted that the Parish Council had been flabbergasted that the Council’s Environmental Health section had suggested that an 8.00am opening time would be deemed acceptable.  She concluded by noting that it was for the Committee to make things better for residents and therefore, as the application before Members was in conflict with that aim and also policy, it should be refused.


The Chair thanked Parish Councillor S Walker and asked Councillor R Ormerod, Local Member, to speak in relation to the application. 


Councillor R Ormerod noted that gambling had its place and could be a pleasurable pastime, as well as generating much needed jobs, if conducted safely and in an appropriate manner.  He added that it should, however, not be at any price.  He noted the cost in terms of the disturbance to residents outweighed any economic benefit and reiterated that the Police, Parish Council and City of Durham Trust were all against the application.  He too felt that if the application was allowed it would set a precedent for a number of similar applications to follow with a ‘free for all’.  He noted that with over 30 nearby residential properties, and even more if one was to include those a short distance away, people should not be encouraged at 2.00am to be creating a noise disturbance. 


He said the Local Neighbourhood Inspector had said it best when stating within the representations from Durham Constabulary: ‘There are already complaints from residents around noise and drunken behaviour from people returning from the late-night bars and clubs, I feel that this would just exacerbate the issue. I feel that it would attract drunk and aggressive people, create an anti-social behaviour hot spot and is not in fitting with the city. North Road is already attracting attention for nuisance, drink related violence and safety issues’.


The Chair thanked Councillor R Ormerod and asked Roger Cornwell, representing the City of Durham Trust, to speak in relation to the application.


R Cornwell thanked the Chair and Committee and referred them to slides to accompany his representation on behalf of the City of Durham Trust.  He noted that one of the changes in recent years had been the conversion of the upper floors of shops into flats.  He added the Trust regarded this as largely beneficial as it provided much needed student accommodation, without converting family homes. 



He referred Members to the slide and explained that one could see the entrance to one of these (Greenland Studios, so called because it was above Iceland) immediately to the left of the application site.  He added this had nine studio flats and represented just one building.


R Cornwell noted that the Trust’s main letter of objection listed 34 residential properties in 12 different buildings as shown on the map on the projector screen.  He explained that 5 North Road was shown in red, and the places where there were flats above shops were in green.  He noted that even if 5 North Road was soundproof, its patrons, emerging into North Road at 2.00am, would not be.  He added that this was two hours later than the Three Bridges pub and three hours after Sainsburys closed.  He noted the Trust would have withdrawn its objection if the terminal hour had been scaled back to midnight, but as it has not been, the Trust would therefore ask the Committee to refuse the application due to the unacceptable impact upon the amenity of existing neighbouring residents, which is contrary to CDP Policy 31.


The Chair thanked R Cornwell and asked Inspector Caroline Dickinson, representing Durham Constabulary, to speak in relation to the application.


Inspector C Dickenson noted the Police shared similar views to that of the Parish Council, Local Member and City of Durham Trust in relation to the application.  She noted that the Police looked at issues in respect of the Crime and Disorder Act, including issues relating to anti-social behaviour and the effect on the local environment.  She explained that while there were several premises that operated until 2.00am, they all were under appropriate premise licences and therefore subject to the conditions of those licences. 

She explained to Members that she had been involved with Licensing for Durham for over eight years and noted that if the proposals were approved there would be no conditions under planning she could use to enforce in respect of a 2.00am opening time.  She asked the Chair if PC Alan Newcombe could use the remainder of the time to give a perspective from the Local Policing Team.  The Chair allowed PC A Newcombe to use the remaining time.


PC A Newcombe explained he would have referred to the Inspector’s comments as set out within representations from the Police, however, Councillor R Ormerod had already stated those comments.  He explained for context that over the last 12 months there had been 1,221 recorded incidents in the North Road area, which included Crossgate Peth and Silver Street.  He added there had been 835 crimes, including theft, shoplifting, anti-social behaviour, public order offences, violence and criminal damage.  He noted there were incidents each day and noted the reduction in Officers from 10.00pm and therefore any potential increase to incidents after that were a concern regards policing. 

He added that there was potential for rough sleepers in the area to come into contact with users of the gambling establishment and at such hours there was increased risk of anti-social behaviour.


The Chair thanked Inspector C Dickenson and PC A Newcombe and asked Robert Dibden, Agent for the applicant to speak in support of the application.


R Dibden noted he would speak to the Committee, with Mark Melton also present from the Applicant, Luxury Leisure, to answer any specific questions Members may have.  R Dibden noted that the Senior Planning Officer (LM) had covered the key matters and he welcomed the recommendation for approval as set out within the Committee report.  He explained that Admiral had operated within Durham City for over 20 years and over that time Durham had evolved, with many businesses in the area having leisure use beyond the 10.00pm opening time for Admiral.  However, the situation in respect of 24 hour use was recognised and therefore an application was submitted with similar hours of operation to those recently granted for a business at 12 North Road, operating until 2.00am.  He explained the current owners also owned the upper floors and they were not in residential use. 


He added that Apex Acoustics, an expert firm in respect of noise assessments, had been instructed to carry out assessments in addition to those carried out by the Noise Action Team from the County Council.  He explained these assessments confirmed that the activity was unlikely to impact upon residential amenity.


R Dibden explained there had been no crimes recorded at the Admiral premises and there were processes in place to deal with incidents. 

He noted that the activities did not include amplified sounds and it was therefore unlikely to impact beyond the premises.  He noted that it was also unlikely that any extension to the opening hours would generate a significant increase in the number of customers and added that the use was already established.  R Dibden explained that Luxury Leisure took its responsibilities seriously, for example having no fixed-odds machines within their establishment, with stakes ranging from 25p to £2, all cashless.  He added the company was a founder member of its Trade Organisation and staff circulated amongst the customers and helped with tools for patrons to track their spending and set betting limits.  He concluded by noting the application would generate two new jobs and reiterated that the Officer’s recommendation for approval was in line with the previous approval for premises at 12 North Road.


The Chair thanked R Dibden and asked the Senior Planning Officer (LM) to respond to the points raised.


The Senior Planning Officer (LM) noted that the applicant had already gone outside of the agreed operating hours, and the retrospective application was to regularise and reduce those hours.


Councillor A Bell noted that it was a successful business that had operated for a number of years, however, the Parish Council, Local Member, City of Durham Trust and Durham Constabulary had all objected to the application.  He noted he had listened to their comments and how vulnerable people may be impacted.  He added he would feel uncomfortable in extending the opening hours and would move refusal of the application.


Councillor J Quinn noted his concerns regarding a retrospective application and agreed with Councillor A Bell.  He added was there not a compromise position of 12.00 midnight?


Councillor LA Holmes explained he was having difficulty persuading himself of a need for the premises to be open beyond 12.00 midnight and asked the Lawyer (Planning and Highways) for advice.


The Lawyer (Planning and Highways) noted that, as Members were aware, retrospective applications were permitted and indeed offered an opportunity to regularise activity as in this instance, and such applications being retrospective was not sufficient itself to warrant refusal.  He noted the focus on the extension of the opening hours and referred to the applicant having instructed experts to undertake noise assessments, with DCC Officers having deemed levels to be acceptable.  Accordingly, he felt it would be a struggle to refuse the application on impact upon residential amenity. 


The Lawyer (Planning and Highways) noted that the Police concerns related to potential conflict between customers of the business and others and a lack of regulatory control for the Police.  However, the Lawyer (Planning and Highways) noted that planning conditions would provide the necessary control over opening hours.


Councillor J Elmer noted he echoed the comments from Councillor A Bell in relation to the application, indeed while he felt 10.00pm was more acceptable, 2.00am presented potential problems as described by the representatives from Durham Constabulary.  He added he felt he disagreed with the Lawyer (Planning and Highways) in that CDP Policy 29 looked to minimise the impact on areas and contribute towards healthy neighbourhoods and therefore he would second refusal.  The Lawyer (Planning and Highways) asked which exact details Members were referring to in proposing refusal in breach of Policy 29.  Councillor J Elmer noted the Police had been clear that the proposals would contribute to anti-social behaviour and levels of crime, contrary to the promotion of health neighbourhoods. 

The Lawyer (Planning and Highways) asked if it was exacerbation of existing issues of anti-social behaviour rather than impact upon residential amenity from noise.  If so, he noted that was a potential reason for refusal, however, his concerns were in terms of how this was evidenced by the Police and therefore their expert evidence would be required to defend such a refusal at appeal.  Accordingly, through the Chair, he asked Inspector C Dickenson what information could be provided to evidence the Police’s position.

Inspector C Dickenson noted she could collate crime statistics in this respect.


Councillor C Marshall noted he was struggling with this application, while he would not wish the opening hours to be 2.00am, permission had been given until that time for a nearby business.  He noted that if there was a need for information to be gathered by Durham Constabulary then he would propose the application be deferred until such time it could be presented to the Committee.  Councillor C Kay noted he would second deferral of the application.


The Lawyer (Planning and Highways) noted that if Members wished to refuse the application on potential crime and disorder impacts, he would recommend the course suggested by Councillor C Marshall, to defer the application in order for further information to be provided by the Police.  He noted there was a motion for refusal that had been moved and seconded prior to the motion for deferment.


Councillor A Bell and J Elmer agreed to withdraw their motion for refusal.


The Lawyer (Planning and Highways) noted the motion before Members was for deferral of the application and upon a vote being taken it was:





That the application be DEFERRED.


Councillor C Hood left the meeting at 12.35pm

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