Agenda item - BH2020/00215 - 23 Trafalgar Street, Brighton BN1 4EQ-Full Planning

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Agenda item

BH2020/00215 - 23 Trafalgar Street, Brighton BN1 4EQ-Full Planning


Ward Affected: St Peter’s and North Laine


            Change of use of basement and ground floors from retail (A1) to mixed use retail and drinking establishment (A1/A4), installation of new shopfront incorporating separate entrance to upper floor maisonette, installation of external stairs and seating to rear, revised fenestration and associated works.


(1)        It was noted that an in-depth presentation had been provided by officers in advance of the meeting and was included on the council website detailing the scheme by reference to site plans, floor plans, elevational drawings and photographs which also showed the proposals in the context of neighbouring development.


(2)        The application related to the basement and ground floor of a three-storey terraced property within a terrace of six properties on the south of Trafalgar Street opposite the junction with Whitecross Street. The ground floor of the site currently comprised a retail unit with-associated storage at basement level and a rear yard with a two-bedroom maisonette (Use Class C3) on the first and second floors. This parade was comprised of commercial on the basement and ground floors (all Use Class A1) apart from an NHS dental practice (Use Class D1) over the upper floors of no.21 with residential upper levels. The building was located in the North Laine Conservation Area and was subject to an Article 4 direction but was not a listed building.


(3)        This application sought planning permission for change of use of the basement and ground floors from retail (Use Class A1) to a mixed use of retail and drinking establishment (Use Classes A1 and A4). This would involve the installation of a new shopfront incorporating a separate entrance to the existing upper floor maisonette, the installation of external stairs and seating to the rear, revised fenestration to the rear, new ramped access to front and the reinstatement of a front lightwell. The main consideration in the determination of this application related to the principle of development, the design of the alterations, the impact on the conservation area, on neighbouring amenity and on the highways network.


(4)        It was considered that the proposal, by reason of the retention of the A1 element, would continue to contribute to the Regional Centre’s viability and attractiveness, whilst also providing a complementary evening/night-time economy use, encouraging combined trips and attracting pedestrian activity through the provision of the A4 component. Subject to conditions, it was not considered that use would not have a significant impact on neighbouring amenity and that the proposed shopfront and other alterations would enhance the appearance of the conservation area; approval was therefore recommended.


            Public Speakers


(5)        A statement was read out by the read out by the Democratic Services Officer on behalf of Councillor Lizzie Deane in her capacity as a Local Ward Councillor and on behalf of local residents and the North Laine Community Association setting out their objections to the scheme Local residents did not wish to see this premises become a drinking establishment, there were already many outlets for the sale of alcohol on Trafalgar Street. There was currently a licence for off-sales but if the outside was used it would generate noise and disturbance in close proximity to neighbouring dwellings in a densely populated area. The sale of alcohol without the provision of food would effectively render the new use a dinking establishment/a pub, which was contrary to the council’s Statement of Licensing Policy. The pavement adjacent to the premises was narrow and those coming into and leaving the premises in order to smoke could lead to congestion of a narrow thoroughfare which could be a risk to public safety.


(6)        Mr Carter of Lewis and Co spoke on behalf of the applicants in support of their application. He stated that the application was intended to enable the existing off-licence to add a small area for the tasting and drinking of specialist whiskies. The applicant was a long established and well-respected whisky supplier who lived in the area and provided whisky to top restaurants and hotels throughout the UK. He did not intend to provide cheap alcohol and cigarettes and his offer would be solely specialist whisky. The number of units currently selling alcohol was considerably fewer now than during the Victorian era when the street had been built. Use of the small outside area for a couple of tables and chairs was limited by condition to cease at 6pm and it was not considered it would have a negative impact on the few neighbouring residents. The Police had raised no objections to the application.


(7)        Councillor Shanks asked regarding the rationale for use of the outside area and the need to place tables and chairs there. It was explained that this area would have limited use (not after 6.00pm) and would be used only as a tasting area in conjunction with the whisky tasting.


(8)        Councillor Theobald referred to the proposed condition which would limit use of the outside area to 6pm and asked whether it was proposed to amend the hours during which licensable activity could be carried out in respect of the reminder of the premises and it was confirmed it was not.


            Questions of Officers


(9)        In response to the agent’s statement to questions, the Head of Planning, Liz Hobden, clarified that the application under consideration was not personal to the applicant and that the use proposed should be considered on the basis of any future applicants.


(10)      Councillor Yates sought further clarification in respect of the proposed use of the premises seeking confirmation regarding the mix of retail which was required to be retained. The number of tables and chairs proposed outside both outside and in the basement indicated to him that business would operate primarily as a bar.


(11)      Councillor Miller also asked regarding the proposed mix of uses within the premises and regarding its internal layout, the number of individuals who would be permitted standing and location of the bar area. Councillor Miller also referred to the width of the footway adjacent to the premises and whether it was intended to provide an outside smoking area.


(12)      Councillor Janio sought confirmation as to whether the proportion of each use was stipulated by legislation and it was confirmed that it was not.


(13)      The Planning Officer, Russell Brown, stated that the proposed use was considered to be acceptable as a reasonable element of the existing retail use would be retained. It was the additional element  of A4 use for which planning permission was being sought.


            Debate and Decision Making Process


(14)      Councillor Theobald stated that she considered the proposed use to be acceptable, particularly as conditions would be imposed limiting the hours of use of the outside space.


(15)      Councillor Janio concerned in that view.


(16)      Councillor Mac Cafferty stated that he did not consider that the application was acceptable. The mix within the premises and number of tables and chairs to be provided did not suggest to him that a suitable level of mixed use would be retained. The use would not be personal to this applicant and in his view ran totally contrary to policy as it would result in a pub by stealth. Neighbouring amenity would be significantly detrimentally impacted by the number of individuals who could be present drinking on the premises at any one time. Use of the whole premises, including the basement areas by up to 40 people by his calculation was unacceptable. There would be further detriment to neighbouring amenity as a result of use of the outside area to the rear and by individuals gathering outside the front of the building on the pavement in order to smoke. Neighbouring residences were in close proximity to the premises, there were also dwelling units above. He considered that all would be negatively impacted by the proposed scheme. Councillor Littman was in agreement.


(17)      Councillor Shanks also agreed stating that she was particularly concerned that use of the outside area given the close proximity to neighbouring dwellings would be detrimental.


(18)      A vote was taken and on a vote of 6 to 4 planning permission was refused. A brief adjournment then took place in order to go into closed session to discuss the reasons for refusal. Councillor Mac Cafferty proposed that planning permission be refused on the grounds that the proposed would have a negative impact on neighbouring amenity due to noise and nuisance and was contrary to policy QD27. That a clear division between the A1/A4 uses had not been demonstrated and there was a loss of retail use. Councillor Shanks seconded the proposal that planning permission be refused. The final wording of the reasons for refusal to be agreed by the Planning Manager in consultation with the proposer and seconder. A recorded vote was then taken. Councillors Hill, (the Chair), Fishleigh, Littman, Mac Cafferty, Shanks and Yates voted that the application be refused. Councillors Childs, Janio, Miller and Theobald voted that planning permission be granted. Therefore, on a vote of 6 to 4 planning permission was refused.


129.5    RESOLVED – That planning permission be refused on the grounds set out above. The final wording of the decision to be agreed by the Planning Manager in consultation with the proposer and the seconder.

Supporting documents:


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