Developer bids to convert former live music venue

Posted On 03 Feb 2023 at 12:24 pm

A developer is asking for permission to convert a disused live music venue where police discovered a cannabis factory into offices or a shop.

The new owner of the Richmond pub is asking permission for commercial use of the ground floor pub and to convert the hostel above into six flats.

The ground floor is already being advertised to let – but the council’s planning department has warned the developers they will need to advertise it to let or for sale at a reasonable rate for two years with no offers before permission for change of use is granted.

Grand Avenue Developments, owned by Timothy Clapham and Alfred Haagman, bought the building in 2022, just months after the cannabis farm was discovered by police.

A 42-year-old man had fallen from a drain pipe onto a patio, and broke his hip spine and left arm.

When they entered the boarded up pub and hostel, they found more than 200 cannabis plants .

The injured man was arrested and after leaving hospital bailed to a hostel in Maidstone – but he has now disappeared and is believed to have returned to Albania.

In their application, the new owners say that the pub had been struggling even before it closed during the pandemic, and said the backpacker hostel was “failing and unpopular”.

However, they have not addressed Brighton and Hove City Council’s new planning rules which state pubs can only be converted if they’ve been offered for sale or to let at a reasonable rate for two years with no interest.

The application says: “The Richmond Bar on street level started having bands perform from 2017, with emphasis on local talent, but only for a couple of years until its closure.

“The building has therefore, unsuccessfully, attempted to diversify to remain popular and profitable. Regrettably this has not been possible. It’s location feeds into its unfortunate downfall.

“Located close to residential properties creates challenges for night time noise, and being opposite the larger and more popular North Laine Pub and the wider North Laine means that are many competing public houses within a short distance.

“These alternative facilities have survived the pandemic and continue to operate.

The previous customer offer was predominantly aimed towards students on nights out and visitors to the city and therefore made little, if any, contribution to the day-to-day needs of the local community. As such, the premises has never been relied upon locally as a community facility.”

Planning officer Helen Pennington has commented on the application, pointing out the new pub conversion policy – known as DM10 – has been ignored by the applicants.

She said: “DM10 has not been addressed by the applicant.

“Paragraph 2.88 of policy DM10 states that a full viability assessment should be submitted to include trading accounts for the last three years of operation, having regard to the Campaign for Real Ale’s public house viability test.

“Although the planning statement indicates the venue has been closed since 2020, recent lack of success does not necessarily indicate lack of need or demand.

“Paragraph 2.91 requires appropriate marketing activities at a realistic price for ongoing public house use to have been undertaken for a period of 24 months. Evidence of this is also required.

“Without this information it is not possible to form a view on the acceptability of the proposal in planning policy terms.”

The ground floor of the building is already on the market to let with Graves Jenkins for an annual rent of £37,500. The listing states: “A former public house which is currently being transformed and converted to private rented accommodation on the upper floors and creating a newly refurbished open plan retail/office opportunity at ground floor level with the potential for a pavement licence for further trading area if required.”

  1. Patcham Guy Reply

    Just let them do it, it’s one less pub in a town overcrowded with them.

  2. Yiblett Reply

    Used to be a great pub and live music venue. Saw this chap perform here

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