A specialist whisky supplier who wants a licence to serve drinks to customers at his Brighton shop faces opposition residents.
Sebastian Woolf has been converting the old Trafalgar Wines off-licence, in Trafalgar Street, Brighton, into whisky retailer Cut Your Wolf Loose.
But neighbours said that they already have to put up with people urinating and vomiting in their doorways, late-night noise and fights.
And any more places where people can drink on the premises would only add to the anti-social and criminal behaviour.
Mr Woolf applied to Brighton and Hove City Council to vary the current licence to allow drinking on the premises in addition to the existing “off-sales”.
He said that he had no plans to sell draft beer, lager or cider but this has failed to win over people living in the surrounding North Laine area.
Next Monday (18 May) a council licensing panel will hear more details about the application and objections before deciding whether to allow the change.
But only last week the council’s Planning Committee turned down a planning application by Mr Woolf’s company Woolf Sung for a “change of use”.
They were concerned that converting the premises from a conventional shop to one where people could drink on the premises risked turning it into a pub “by stealth”.
Green councillor Lizzie Deane, who represents St Peter’s and North Laine ward, opposed both the licence and planning applications.
She said: “Trafalgar Street is at the heart of the city’s ‘cumulative impact zone’ where there is already an overabundance of licensed premises causing crime, disorder, noise and disturbance to local residents.”
The council has a policy of restricting new licences in the cumulative impact zone which covers a significant part of the commercial heart of Brighton and Hove.
The North Laine Community Association said that the area was “saturated” with 78 licensed premises – 14 of them in Trafalgar Street.
The association said: “Since the introduction of flexible opening hours in 2003, residents have had to put up with increased levels of noise from drinkers during the day and night, leading to increased levels of anti-social behaviour and vandalism.
“We also believe that, by granting this variation, it would result in the premises becoming a pub, adding to the cumulative impact.”
A North Laine resident, whose details were redacted on the council’s website, said: “Each additional licence granted in North Laine has contributed to the cumulative impact.
“The fact that a premises is small does not mean that there is no impact. The impact may be smaller than for a large pub holding a hundred people but there will still be an impact.”
Another neighbour, whose details were also redacted on the council website, said: “My household has to tolerate the impacts of crime and disorder, and public nuisance, on an almost daily basis as a result of the area being saturated with licensed premises.
“I have had to call the police on numerous occasions, often using 999, to report crimes or because I have felt unsafe in my home.”
Two whisky specialists sent in letters supporting Mr Woolf’s application. Their details were also redacted.
One said: “As the owner of a multi-award winning world-famous whisky bar and distillery, I have seen directly how a well-delivered whisky establishment can become a hub for local whisky enthusiasts as well as international guests who seek the best whisky and best possible whisky experience.
“I advocate an environment where consumers can enjoy fine spirits in a controlled and responsible manner, managed by well trained and enthusiastic staff.”
Another wrote: “The type of person who would frequent a whisky bar such as Cut Your Wolf Loose, specialising in independent bottlings, rare and top-shelf whiskies, will no doubt be a far more sensible drinker who likely has an academic interest in the field.
“This is the type of venture that would become a community venue as well as a must-visit attraction for whisky aficionados worldwide.”
Sussex Police have proposed extensive conditions, which they said Mr Woolf accepted, and asked for a panel to review the application because of its location in the North Laine.
The proposed conditions include not stocking beer, lager or cider and installing digital security cameras and making recordings available to police.
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