Brighton hotel bosses make concessions in bid for new drinks licence

The bosses of a Brighton hotel offered concessions as they tried to persuade a panel of councillors to grant them a replacement licence to sell alcoholic drinks.

They said that smokers would no longer be able to take drinks outside the Artist Residence in Regency Square.

And the number of smokers allowed outside after 7pm would be limited to eight, with a staff member monitoring the steps and street.

The concessions were offered to try to meet the concerns of neighbours, police and licensing chiefs after the hotel was found to have previously been breaking the rules.

The Spearhead

The Artist Residence’s drinks licence application was considered by a Brighton and Hove City Council licensing panel at Hove Town Hall today (Monday 24 June).

The panel of three councillors is due to deliver its verdict within five working days.

The hotel’s management had two licences covering the two properties that became the hotel.

The owners are seeking a single – later – licence for the entire premises after it came to the attention of Sussex Police and council licensing officers.

Breaches included a pop-up bar – the Trashed Panda – operating in the basement until midnight, outside the licensed area and hours, as well as broken CCTV cameras. The bar has since been renamed the Sneaky Panda.

Mark Browning, the Artist Residence’s barrister, said: “Trashed Panda did make it sound like a rave was going on.

“It is tiny. Everybody in there is seated. You cannot stand in there and those 14 people are served by a waiter or waitress.

“It was a small thing and a misunderstanding that this area was part of the licence.

“We haven’t had complaints. We have worked closely with neighbours.”

By April, when the new application was submitted, the hotel was complying properly with the conditions of its existing licences, it said.

But the police, council officers, the Regency Square Area Society and several neighbours still raised objections, with concerns including noise, litter and anti-social behaviour.

Artist Residence

Police licensing officer Hannah Staplehurst wanted the licence to have a condition attached so that anyone drinking in the restaurant – known as The Set – had to be seated.

Hotel owner Justin Salisbury told the council licensing panel that eating out had changed in the past five years, with customers preferring a more casual approach.

He said: “Habits have changed. If people want to have a drink or a meal, we have to be flexible.”

But hotel manager Lucy Baylis said that restaurant customers expected to receive table service and were unlikely to stand at a bar.

A compromise was suggested that would mean two of the rooms in the restaurant having licence conditions which restricted the serving of alcohol to those having a meal. And food would always be available in the bar.

Mike Davies, from the Regency Square Area Society, said that the hotel was a good neighbour, adding: “When there are issues or problems, there are the right meetings to address problems and chase those problems out.”

Mr Davies, who said that about 600 people lived in Regency Square, also said: “We are assured but still made a submission because a few things are jarring.”

Residents’ concerns also included a courtyard at the back of the hotel as well as outdoor seating and crowds of smokers gathering outside.

At the licensing panel at Hove Town Hall, it was suggested that the back courtyard stay open only until 9pm. The panel was told that it was used mainly for lunchtime dining.

Tables had been removed from the area outside the hotel, the panel was told, and Mr Browning said that it would surrender its street licence.

The panel was chaired by Labour councillor Jackie O’Quinn, sitting with Conservative councillor Dee Simson and Labour councillor Carmen Appich.

  1. Penny Gilbey Reply

    It is not for applicants to offer concessions, it is for the Licensing committee to put their own conditions on the license.
    It is fir the panel to decide if there is vertical drinking or only drinks seated with a meal, not about habits changing or food just being available.
    Licensing policies locally are very clear.

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