Hippodrome awaits drinks licence verdict

The Hippodrome’s owner has applied for a drinks licence to serve alcohol at the premises which it plans to reopen as a hotel, private club and public bar.

Matsim Properties, owned by the Lambor family, started repairing and restoring the grade II* listed theatre last year.

The company aims to create a flexible performance space, restaurant and café, rooftop bar and terrace, an “apart-hotel”, serviced offices and shops.

The licence application is for the dining and bar areas in the aparthotel, a private members’ club, art clubs and a foyer bar at the front of the building in Middle Street.

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A Brighton and Hove City Council licensing panel is due to decide whether to grant a licence early next month.

The panel, consisting of three councillors, will hear from the applicants, Sussex Police, council officials, supporters and objectors.

Matsim has applied for a licence to sell alcohol from 10am to 11.30pm daily, with a New Year’s Eve extension until 2am on New Year’s Day. And it wants a 2am finish for a further 18 events a year.

If the licence is granted, hotel guests would be able to use mini bars in their room at any time.

The licence would also include “late-night refreshment” enabling food and drink to be served until midnight.

The Hippodrome is in an area that the council has designated a “cumulative impact zone”, with stricter licensing rules because of the high levels of related crime and anti-social behaviour.

But the owners have held talks with the police to address their concerns. Proposals restricting drinks to waiter service only to customers seated at tables in the private members’ bar and the outdoor area.

Inspector Michelle Palmer-Harris, from Sussex Police, said that the Hippodrome had amended its original application after discussions.

The force wanted under-18s to be barred from any late-night or special entertainment events.

And while new off-sales licences are rarely granted in the centre of Brighton, the police would accept condition attached to the licence to allow drink to be sold in sealed containers at special events.

Customers leaving after 11pm would do so in Ship Street, not Middle Street.

Inspector Palmer-Harris said: “It is the view of Sussex Police that, should the committee be minded to grant this application, there are measures in place to minimise the potential negative cumulative effect on the area.

“By applying the numerous conditions contained within the operating schedule as well as consideration being given to any discussion at the hearing, it is highly likely that the risk of any negative cumulative impact will be mitigated and controlled.”

An objector, whose details were redacted by the council on its website, asked the committee to restrict any potential licence extensions in the future.

The anonymous objector said: “We are aware that this licence needs to be granted despite being in a cumulative impact zone to make the whole Hippodrome restoration project viable.

“But we would like to remind the committee that this part of the old town already experiences a tremendous volume of public nuisance, whether that be noise, urination, vomiting, littering, drug-use or graffiti.”

A supporter, whose details were also redacted by the council, said: “This development is a welcome addition to Brighton as it provides a cultural as well as an entertainment centre rather than a noisy pub or junk food outlet of which there are so many in the area.

“Litter will not be a problem as I presume food will be served on-site in the café/restaurant and not as takeaways.”

The council licensing panel is due to meet at Hove Town Hall on Monday 3 October at 10am.

  1. Robert Pattinson Reply

    The council is chasing investment surely a new development like this should be given the licence it wants. Its not these sort of business that cause issues its the 24hr shops selling booze they should close at 11pm.

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