A pub chain has applied for a 2am licence on the first floor of the former Topshop unit in Churchill Square.
The Botanist, which already has branches around the UK, wants a licence to serve alcohol and food and for the performance of both live and recorded music until 2am from Thursday to Saturday, closing at 2.30am.
From Sunday to Wednesday, it wants the same activities, but until 1am, closing at 1.30am.
Churchill Square says it has also submitted a planning application for alterations to the unit, which is currently being used by the NHS as a walk-in vaccination centre.
The application, submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council by The Botanist’s parent company New World Trading Company, acknowledges that the site is within the council’s cumulative impact zone (CIZ), where there are strict rules on issuing licences.
The activities it is asking for are more typical of nightclubs, and the council has a policy of not granting new club or even pub licences within the city centre.
However, it believes it can demonstrate “exceptional circumstances” which mean it should get a licence.
Council policy does recommend granting new restaurant licences within the CIZ, but only with opening hours up to midnight.
The application says: “The proposed premises is a restaurant and bar situated on the first floor, accessed via a ground floor lobby entrance.
“We are aware of the premises’ location within Brighton and Hove’s cumulative impact area policy. Accordingly, this application is supported by statements and relevant documentation addressing the various points within the CIP to confirm its exceptional circumstances of the application.”
Mark Buchanan Smith, centre director at Churchill Square, said: “We can confirm we have submitted a planning application and are working closely with The Botanist in support of their licensing application.
“We believe they would be a great addition to Brighton, and further diversify our tenant mix here at Churchill Square.”
As well as a licence, a pub or restaurant would also need to get a change of use under planning to open in that unit, or any of Churchill Square’s other units which have been used for retail up to now.
However, a recent change in planning law has made it much easier for commercial buildings to get a change in use.
Previously, shops and restaurants had two different use classes, A1 and A3. Now both are in a new use class, E, which also includes a range of commercial uses such as banks, bowling alleys, clinics and offices.
However, pubs have changed from A4 to sui generis, which means not belonging to any other classification.
Churchill Square’s planning application is not yet on the council’s planning portal.
LIKE WHAT WE DO? HELP US TO DO MORE OF IT BY DONATING HERE.