|Members were required to determine what action to take in relation to an application for variation of a premise licence under the Licensing Act 2003 to which there had been a representation from a Responsible Authority and from Interested Parties. |
An application for variation had been received from Marston's PLC, in relation to The Eagle Inn, Durham Lane, Eaglescliffe, Stockton on Tees.
The proposed variation was to change the internal and external layout of the premises as detailed within the main report.
Four representations had been received. The Committee had regard to the written objections which had been received from local residents. Members also heard from Councillor Philip Dennis who had attended to speak at the meeting on behalf of Mr and Mrs Stanforth and present their objection.
On behalf of the Applicant, Mr and Mrs Kingston (DPS and Marstons Franchisee respectively) and Ms Boyes (Area Manager for Marstons) were in attendance at the meeting and were represented by the Applicant's solicitor, Ms Hazlewood (Solicitor) accompanied by Ms Pinson (Trainee Solicitor).
Members noted that there had been some discussion prior to the commencement of the meeting between Environmental Health and the Applicant. In consequence, the Applicant and Environmental Health informed the Committee that the parties had agreed some amendments to the proposed conditions for the Committee's consideration as follows:-
1. Self-closing devices should be provided to all external doors to ensure they remain in the closed position whilst not in use to control the ingress of smoke and the egress of noise.
2. The use of External Areas by customers should be limited from 09.00 to 23.00. There should be no music played in the external areas, and no use of flood lighting likely to cause a nuisance to local residential properties.
3. Food and drink should not be consumed in the external dining area after 23.00 except on a Friday and Saturday for pre-booked private functions when this time shall be extended to 23:20. There should be no use of external floodlighting likely to cause a nuisance to local residential properties.
4. Customers would not be permitted to drink outside the licensable area as set out in the application plan and outlined in red.
Members went on to note the Applicant's representations that the disputed issue surrounded the relocation of the smoking shelter, and the noise nuisance issues raised by Environmental Health and the residents of 1 Durham Lane, Eaglescliffe.
The Applicant's representative explained that the smoking shelter had been relocated to the right side of the premise as part of the Applicant's initiative to encourage an increase in the number of families, females and over fifties using the premise. This was referred to as "The F Plan". The whole point of the F Plan was to promote a more family friendly environment where people could socialise and eat food as a family.
The Applicant's representative explained that when the Smoking Shelter was located on the left side of the premise, customers who wished to smoke had to walk through the dining area to get to the shelter. This undermined the objective of the F plan', which was to discourage smoking and to encourage a healthier lifestyle. In an attempt to promote the F Plan, the Applicant sought to relocate the smoking shelter from the left to the right hand side of the premise.
The Applicant's representative explained that, whilst there were seats located under the new shelter, it was not protected from the elements and was much less appealing than the previous shelter located on the left. This was intended to discourage customers from spending longer than was necessary smoking outside of the premise. The Applicant submitted the establishment of a smoking shelter would encourage customers to remain in a designated area.
The Committee went onto consider Environmental Health's submissions that there were concerns about alcohol being consumed in the area, which, on an evening, when background noise levels were low, could lead to increase noise nuisance to the neighbouring property due to the consumption of alcohol whilst smoking. This was of particular concern due to the fact that this would be exacerbated when the external door was open, without a lobby or buffer to reduce noise levels.
Committee Members also considered the representations by Mr Stanforth, the resident of 1 Durham Lane, Eaglescliffe. His property was situated directly behind the right side of the premise. Mr Stanforth expressed concern about the noise levels and the use of a dwarf wall owned by Mr Stanforth, which customers occasionally sat on whilst smoking/drinking. Mr Stanforth was of the view that the current arrangement for the closure of the door was not adequate to keep noise levels to an acceptable level. Mr Stanforth also made submissions about customers' use of foul language within ear shot of his garden particularly when his children were playing, and the nuisance caused by sound levels emanating from the premise and the smoking shelter, which had forced him to close his windows on occasion.
Whilst the Committee accepted that the provision of a smoking shelter was well intended by the Applicant, the Committee had concerns about noise levels emanating from the premise when the external door to the smoking shelter was open. This was more concerning as there was no lobby to act as a buffer for the egress of noise. As the shelter had already been erected, it appeared that a lobby was no longer an option. The Committee also gave weight to the evidence given by Mr Stanforth set out above.
The Committee were of the view that allowing customers to consume their drinks whilst smoking under the shelter would encourage them to remain outside for longer than was necessary; thereby increasing the potential for noise nuisance particularly on an evening when background noise levels were low. For this reason, the Committee were not satisfied that restricting the times for consuming drinks would alleviate the problem, nor would it be conducive to the prevention of public nuisance. The Committee also felt that allowing customers to consume alcohol outside whilst using the shelter undermined the Applicant's argument that it wanted to make smoking less appealing to customers.
After giving consideration to all of the evidence and representations made both orally and in writing, the Committee resolved to grant the variation to the premise licence subject to the following amendments:-
1. With reference to appendix 3 of the existing Premise Licence, under the heading "Prevention of Public Nuisance":-
a) Condition 8 to be removed and replaced with the following condition:-
8. Food and drink shall not be consumed in the external dining area after 23.00 except on a Friday and Saturday each week when consumption shall be permitted until 23:20 for pre-booked, private functions only. There should be no use of external floodlighting likely to cause a nuisance to local residential properties."
b) Condition 9 shall be amended to read:-
9. The doors to the All Weather Garden, and all other external doors, shall be fitted with self-closing devices to ensure they remain in a closed position whilst not in use in order to control the egress of noise and ingress of smoke".
2. With reference to appendix 3 of the existing Premise Licence, under the heading "Prevention of Public Nuisance", the additional conditions shall be added:-
10 Customers will not be permitted to consume alcoholic or other beverages outside the licensable area as set out on the plan annexed to the application and dated 05 August 2014. For the avoidance of doubt, the Smoking Shelter was outside the licensable area and shall be used for the consumption of cigarettes and tobacco only."
11 A digital close circuit television system (CCTV) must be installed to ensure adequate views of the external area surrounding the Smoking Shelter including, (but not limited to) views to the left and right hand side of the Smoking Shelter. The CCTV system must meet the requirements set out in condition 1 under the heading Prevention of Crime and Disorder"
12 An acoustic barrier shall be erected at the foot of the Smoking Shelter, (directly facing the external door) to act as a buffer for the egress of noise emanating from the premise. The acoustic barrier must be erected in such a way so as not to contravene the requirements of The Smokefree (Premises & Enforcement) Regulations 2006
13. The use of external areas by customers shall be limited from 09.00 to 23.00 in that there should be no music played in the external areas, and no use of flood lighting likely to cause a nuisance to local residential properties.