By Natasha Livingstone
Controversy has been raised over plans for a new sports bar to open at the former Loveshack venue this summer.
The venue would be taken over by Players Bar, a sports bar chain with clubs across the country that feature 3D TVs, VIP lounges, and cocktail master-classes.
Loveshack’s former site in Durham’s Watergate complex has been empty since last August.
The managing director of Players Bar, Shaun Jenkinson, hopes to open the bar this summer.
He said: “Loveshack has left a big dent in Durham nightlife. I would like to think we can fill that and more. It should be good for us and a good thing for Durham.”
However, Roberta Blackman-Woods MP has encouraged Durham County Council to refuse the licensing application.
Referencing the death of Durham Student Olivia Burt outside Missoula earlier this year, the MP has raised concerns over the high density of clubs near the proposed venue.
She said: “Given the complex and interwoven issues the tragic events outside Missoula in February have raised, including the management of the night time economy, the suitability of the Walkergate complex for a concentration of late licences and the local authority’s licensing policy as a whole”
“I really hope that the licensing committee will consider the impact another bar in the Walkergate complex will have on public safety and associated issues in Durham, and reject this application.”
Inspector Rachel Stockdale, from Durham Police’s harm reduction unit, said: “When an application is received, we will always look to work closely with the applicant and the council along with the other responsible authorities to ensure the premises is run as safely and as effectively as possible for the customers as well as the wider community.”
Joanne Waller, Head of Environment, Health and Consumer Protection at Durham County Council, said: “We have received an application for a premises licence from Players Bar which is in its consultation stage and anyone who wants to make representations on this should contact our licensing service at email@example.com.”
Durham County Council says its licensing policy is scheduled for re-adoption in 2019 and it will be holding a full public consultation on the issue.
Meanwhile, Inspired Leisure, the company behind the new venture, has set aside a “hefty budget” to refurbish the club, should the licensing application be successful.
Director Shaun Jenkinson stated “It’s going to need a complete overhaul. It’s not in a pretty state at the moment.”
Photograph: Gary Allman via Flickr