By Alex Leggatt
A new pub and nightclub is set to open on North Road after gaining a premises licence.
It is planned that the venue will operate as a pub during the day and a club in the evening with events aimed at students.
The venue, located on 13-15 North Road, was previously a cinema site, opening in 1934. More recently, it was renovated into an Australian-themed pub, and later a Chinese buffet. It has remained vacant since its closure in 2013.
The venue will operate as a pub during the day and a club in the evening with events aimed at students
Northumberland Taverns Ltd submitted an application for a licence earlier this year. This licence will include the sale of alcohol from 9am until 2am, seven days a week. It will also include live music, film and late night refreshment.
Concerns were raised due to the size of the venue, which has a capacity of up to 800 people, which could result in noise disruption on North Road as people leave the club in the early morning.
This licence will include the sale of alcohol from 9am until 2am, seven days a week
Durham Police did not object to the licensing agreement once Northumberland Taverns Ltd had complied with their request to withdraw a bid to sell alcohol until 4am on several occasions per year.
Durham City Council’s Environmental Health Authority also withdrew their objections after “noise control measures” were proposed.
Tim Robson, of TJR Licensing, said the building was “made to contain the breakout of noise and a large number of people”. At the licensing hearing, plans were revealed for a noise strategy to be implemented, with staff being trained and clubbers being encouraged to “keep the noise down.”
The Statutory Licensing Sub-Committee agreed to grant the premises a licence after this discussion, although planning permission is still required from Durham County Council.
Plans were revealed for a noise strategy to be implemented, with staff being trained and clubbers being encouraged to “keep the noise down”
Mr Smurthwaite, of Northumberland Taverns Ltd, confirmed that ‘Loft’, the nightclub adjacent to the new venue, is planned to close as part of the move. He added that he had not received any noise complaints from current residents regarding existing venues on North Road.
Opposition from the City of Durham Parish Council and Brendan McKeon, a Neville Street resident, forced the police to have a licensing hearing.
During this hearing, parish councillor Roger Cornwell called the licensing agreement “unacceptable,” and argued that the application should either be refused or the total capacity of the venue limited. Speaking after the licensing was agreed, Mr Cornwell said he was “disappointed” that further restrictions were not placed on the venue’s licence.
Parish councillor Victoria Ashfield also said in the hearing that she would aim to support the rights of students living on North Road to a “comfortable life while they’re studying in Durham”.
“Now that most of the residents are students we’re cognisant that most of them want to work hard while they’re here and make sure that their money is well-spent on their fees.”
Victoria Ashfield, member of the City of Durham Parish Council
She said that some students have faced noise disruption by living on North Road, but, as “temporary residents”, felt they did not have the right to complain.
She added: “In the past, we have wanted to protect residents against students but now that most of the residents are students we’re cognisant that most of them want to work hard while they’re here and make sure that their money is well-spent on their fees.”
There were no formal objections raised by students living in the North Road area.
A student living on North Road, who wished to remain anonymous, told Palatinate that they were “disturbed by Loft club nights” and were forced to “sleep with earbuds in on most nights”.
“Letting agents need to make clear that North Road is a very noisy place to live when they’re speaking to new tenants.”
Lottie Hanwell, fourth-year student
They also expressed their concern with noise reducing measures, arguing that they “don’t really see what measures [the venue] can put in place to mitigate” the noise of students leaving the club, since “everyone will want to leave when the night ends”.
Another student, Lottie Hanwell, a fourth-year living close to the current ‘Loft’ nightclub, told Palatinate that they thought the club “wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for Durham’s nightlife”, but said that “letting agents need to make clear that North Road is a very noisy place to live when they’re speaking to new tenants.”
Photograph: Google via Creative Commons