An application has been received to vary the Premises Licence for the premises known as ‘The Boathouse, 9 Quay Road, Christchurch’.
This matter is brought before the Sub-Committee for determination.
From BCP Council:
Linda Cole, Legal Advisor to the Sub-Committee
Sarah Rogers, Senior Licensing Officer
Michelle Cutler, Clerk to the Sub-Committee
The Chairman made introductions and explained the procedure for the Hearing, which was agreed by all parties.
The Senior Licensing Officer presented the report at Agenda Item 6, a copy of which had been circulated to all parties prior to the meeting and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'A' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.
The Sub-Committee was asked to consider an application to vary the Premises Licence for ‘The Boathouse’, 9 Quay Road, Christchurch BH23 1BU to remove condition 2.10 imposed on the licence which stated:- “This variation will only have effect during the imposition of restrictions under the Coronavirus Act 2020 prohibiting or rendering unviable the normal use of the premises under the Premises Licence.”
The Licensing Sub-Committee was advised that representations had been received from 20 other persons, which included a representations from Councillor Coulton of Christchurch Town Council and one from Christchurch Town Council as a whole, to the removal of this condition on the grounds that to grant the application would undermine all four licensing objectives.
The following persons attended the Hearing and addressed the Sub-Committee to expand on the points made in their written submissions:
Sandra Graham, Solicitor - Trethowans LLP representing Macemade Ltd
Mr Richard Slater – Manager of The Boathouse
Mr Kim Slater – Director of Macemade Ltd
Mrs Sarah King – ‘Other Person’
Mr Adrian and Mrs Ruth Dwyer – ‘Other Person’
Councillor Avril Coulton - Christchurch Town Council – ‘Other Person’
Mr Daniel Lucas - Town Clerk, Christchurch Town Council – ‘Other Person’
Mrs Graham addressed the Sub-Committee on behalf of the applicant and explained how the business had developed at the Boathouse since the premises was purchased in 1998 and the changes that were required to trade through the pandemic. She advised that customers who had enjoyed these changes wished to continue to eat outside and enjoy the limited and less expensive offering from the airbus, which made it cheaper for families. Mrs Graham advised that her clients were a high-end responsible operator, that they liked to create a family environment and were constantly improving and investing in the premises to attract the right cliental. She produced some photographs of the outdoor area where the takeaway function was operated from.
Mrs Graham reminded the Sub-Committee that the ‘Quomps’ was a large public open space, which was intended to be used by local residents and visitors. She acknowledged some of the complaints that local residents had raised in their representations, such as dumped litter, glass and about groups of youths who congregated in the ‘Quomps’ but stated that all of those issues could not be attributed to the Boathouse. The Boathouse funded litter pickers to pick up all of the litter in the area and it was clear from the packaging of what was picked, it had not emanated from the Boathouse but other takeaways and shops; no drinks to takeaway were supplied in glass receptacles; the premises had become aware of youths who congregated and would not serve them; and their prices were relatively high to discourage binge drinking.
Mrs Graham advised the Sub-Committee that the premises worked closely with the Police and would call the Police to report issues on the ‘Quomps’ and were willing to assist and co-operate with the Police as necessary. Feedback from the Police had acknowledged it was helpful to have people on site in this area, not to control but to supervise and call them as appropriate.
The ‘Other Person’s’ listed above made submissions to the Sub-Committee, the detail of which was set out in their relative representations.
The Sub-Committee asked questions of the applicant and all parties were given the opportunity to ask questions of each other. Mr Lucas sought clarification about the continuing offer to pick litter and Mrs Dwyer about the apparent conflict of the current application to vary and the reasons given for granting the minor variation in 2020. All parties were given the opportunity to sum up before the Sub-Committee retired to make its decision.
Before concluding the Hearing, the Legal Advisor advised all parties of the right of appeal.
It was RESOLVED that the application to vary the premises licence of the premises known as ‘The Boathouse’, 9 Quay Road, Christchurch, to remove condition 2.10 imposed on the licence which states:- “This variation will only have effect during the imposition of restrictions under the Coronavirus Act 2020 prohibiting or rendering unviable the normal use of the premises under the Premises Licence.” be GRANTED subject to the following conditions offered by the applicant during the course of the Hearing:-
Reasons for the Decision
The Sub-Committee gave detailed consideration to all the information that had been submitted before the meeting and contained in Agenda Item 6, in particular the written representations made by 20 ‘other persons’ on the grounds that to grant the application would undermine all four licensing objectives. The Sub-Committee also considered the verbal representations of Sarah Rogers, Senior Licensing Officer; Sandra Graham, Solicitor, on behalf of the Applicants, Mr Richard Slater and Mr Kim Slater, and the following ‘other persons’ that had submitted written representations:- Mrs Sarah King; Mr and Mrs Dwyer; Councillor Avril Coulton, Christchurch Town Council and Mr Daniel Lucas, Town Clerk, Christchurch Town Council. The Sub-Committee also considered the responses given to all of the questions asked at the Hearing.
Whilst the Sub-Committee acknowledged the concerns expressed by residents and Christchurch Town Council as a whole, it was noted that these concerns appeared to be based on a fear of what might happen in the future should condition 2.10 be removed from the licence and did not provide any substantial evidence to justify refusing the application. The Sub-Committee was mindful of the spirit of the Licensing Act 2003 and the case of Thwaites PLC v Wirral Borough Magistrates’ Court 2008.
The Sub-Committee was of the view that many of the issues being complained about could not be attributed to the Boathouse and some were not relevant considerations that could be considered when determining this application.
The Sub-Committee noted that in the 12 months since the premises had operated a takeaway service there had been no complaints made about the premises and that no Responsible Authorities had objected to this application to vary.
The Sub-Committee acknowledged the arrangements that the premises have in place to clear all litter in the area; not just that generated by the Boathouse and that they provided temporary toilets for use by all visitors to the ‘Quomps’ when the BCP public toilets where closed during the Pandemic. They were pleased that the premises wanted to be involved with the community and wanted to work with Mr Lucas of Christchurch Town Council and commended their willingness to co-operate and assist the Police. The Sub-Committee welcomed the applicants offer to reduce the closing time of their takeaway operation from 23:00hrs to 22:00hrs, to reduce any potential noise at a later hour and to provide a contact telephone number where noise complaints could be reported by local residents as they occur.
The Sub-Committee noted that the applicants had a vast amount of experience in managing licensed premises in Christchurch and have developed and improved The Boathouse since it opened in 1998. They were impressed with how the premises was presented in the photographs produced and were confident that Mr Richard and Mr Kim Slater would continue to run the premises and the newer takeaway operation in a responsible manner.
The Sub-Committee noted that from 1st July 2021 a Public Space Protection Order had been put into place by BCP Council which includes the ‘Quomps’ area. This order does not ban alcohol or make it an offence to drink alcohol in the area; but does allow authorised officers and the Police to ask those causing anti-social behaviour, to stop drinking and to confiscate any alcohol. The Sub-Committee was mindful that this order should assist in the prevention of anti-social behaviour in the area and should alleviate some residents’ concerns about noise nuisance caused by excess alcohol.
The Sub-Committee was satisfied that if the premises continued to operate in the responsible way they appeared to and in accordance with the conditions on the premises licence, then the premises should not undermine the licensing objectives. It was noted that a review of the premises licence could be applied for at any time by a Responsible Authority or any other person should there be any issues associated with the premises in the future that undermine the licensing objectives.
Right of Appeal
All parties to the application have the right to Appeal to the Magistrates Court within the period of 21 days beginning with the day on which the Applicant is notified by the Licensing Authority of this decision in writing.