Brighton bar plan thwarted after panel refuses to grant drinks licence

Plans for a bar in a former Brighton restaurant have been dashed after the owners were refused a licence to sell alcohol.

A company – Nemabil Ltd – wanted to open a bar called the Toy Shop in place of Jamie’s Restaurant, in Black Lion Street, Brighton.

The directors Michael Brkic and Jamie Roberts faced opposition from Sussex Police, Brighton and Hove City Council’s licensing department and the owners of the nearby Cricketers pub.

Mr Brkic and Mr Roberts already run a venue in Putney but faced criticism for submitting a licensing application that was at odds with local policy in Brighton and Hove.

The council allows new pubs, clubs and bars in a central area, known as the “cumulative impact zone”, only in exceptional circumstances because of the “saturation” of licensed premises.

Mr Brkic and Mr Roberts sad that their business would target a different client base to the “West Street crowd”.

They wanted to attract professional women over 30 who, they said, would be unlikely to cause problems.

Council licensing officer Mark Savage-Brooks said told a council licensing panel at Hove Town Hall earlier this month that he could see no exceptional circumstances to justify a granting a licence.

The licensing panel sent a refusal letter to Nemabil which said: “The panel do not consider that … there are exceptional circumstances.

“We find the arguments about the nature and demographic of prospective customers problematic and not persuasive.

“The police, when asked, did not accept that being older meant that you were less likely to cause problems particularly when alcohol was involved and that Brighton had such a diverse population that it was difficult to make generalisations in this respect.

“People also could render themselves vulnerable through drink and become victims themselves.”

The panel, chaired by Green councillor Lizzie Deane, criticised Nemabil for failing to “engage” with the “cumulative impact” policy.

It also said that there was little difference between the Toy Shop and other bar venues in the centre of Brighton.

The letter said: “In the panel’s opinion this application is likely to add to the existing cumulative impact in the area and will mean more people in an already saturated and challenging environment.

“It will add to the burdens already faced including those of the stretched resources of the police and voluntary services.

“We have had regard to the conditions proposed but, in agreement with the police, we do not consider that they will be effective in preventing the problems involved or that they are exceptional.

“We do consider that granting this application will undermine the licensing objectives and therefore it is refused.”

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