The Sub-Committee considered the application for a premises licence to authorise the provision of regulated entertainment, provision of late night refreshment and the sale of alcohol for consumption on and off the premises at The Blue Ball, Sandygate, Exeter EX2 7JL. The meeting was a hearing to consider the application for a premises licence under the Licensing Act 2003.
The applicant, St Austell Brewery Co Ltd, entitled to make representations, was represented by Mr Ewen Macgregor of TLT Solicitors. Also in attendance were Mr Chris Faulkner of St Austell Brewery and Mr Adam Holland, manager and tenant of The Blue Ball.
The interested parties present and entitled to make representations were Mr Robert Pond, Mr Jonathan Sewell and Mrs Helen Sewell.
Also present was Mr Asitha Ranatunga, legal advisor to the Sub-Committee.
The Licensing Officer, Mr Steve Saunders, outlined the application. The premises currently operates under an existing premises licence, the license holder being St Austell Brewery. The license holder is now applying for a new premises licence following alterations to the premises including the addition of a shelter area and alterations to outside areas including the addition of an external servery bar which is proposed to be licensed for the sale of alcohol.
Should the application be granted to a satisfactory standard, the applicant would surrender the existing premises licence. The application was set out in Appendix A of the report and plans could be viewed under Appendices B1, B2 and B3. The licensable activities and the timings applied for had been set out in Appendix C, and for comparison the timings authorised by the existing licence were shown in Appendix D to the report.
The Licensing Officer summarised the licensable activities which were now being applied for as the sale of alcohol for consumption on and off the premises, late night refreshment indoors and outdoors and regulated entertainment.
Since the report had been prepared, the Chair of the Licensing & Enforcement Sub-Committee had requested further information from the applicant and additional Appendices are now included in the report before the Sub-Committee. Additional documents are Appendices L, M, M1 and M2 which had been circulated to all parties on 18th May 2021.
Nine representations against the application had been received. The applicant’s representative had undertaken mediation with the interested parties although it was understood that no subsequent agreement had been reached.
A representation was made by Devon and Cornwall Police who have reached an agreement with the applicant and the subsequent amendments and additions that have been offered by the applicant are set out in Appendix I.
All representations received are set out in full in the Licensing Officer’s report.
The applicant’s legal representative, Mr Ewen Macgregor, addressed the Sub-Committee and referred to Appendices C, D and J of the Officer’s report. Mr Macgregor made the following points:
· The premises are well-established and have held a license for many years
· The premises are not, and have not been, subject to regulatory enforcement action
· No responsible authorities have made representations
· The application before the Sub-Committee seeks more restrictive conditions than those under the current license
· The applicant has no intention of changing the style and nature of the premises and the application sought to rectify changes which have been made, particularly the addition of an external bar
Regarding Appendix C, the summary of proposed licensable activities and Appendix D, the summary of existing licensable activities, Mr Macgregor highlighted various points in order to clarify what is now being sought under the new application.
Appendix J contained a full list of conditions, including those agreed with the Police, which enhance and update the conditions on the existing license. Mr Macgregor highlighted the conditions which relate to the use of the outside bar and to public nuisance which are not currently on the premises license.
In response to questions from members of the Sub-Committee, the applicant’s legal advisor made the following points:
· Additional conditions have been included requiring noise checks to be made, with reference to condition 36 during the provision of regulated entertainment when noise checks will be carried out at the nearest noise sensitive property and a noise log will be kept
· Physical noise checks will be made and residents will be consulted and included in any future noise monitoring
· During the provision of entertainment, staff monitor noise levels on a regular basis and noise monitoring equipment will be provided if required in the future
· The purpose of the application is to remedy the situation regarding obtaining a license for the outside bar area which is already in use
· The intention for the live music is to provide entertainment suitable for families
The Sub-Committee viewed the plan at Appendix B2 and photograph at Appendix F in order to clarify the area for the external bar and the provision of live music.
In response to a question from an interested party, the applicant’s legal advisor confirmed that the current license application seeks to ensure that the outside bar area, which was not previously licensed, can be used properly and with the required license.
The interested parties presented their case to the Sub-Committee.
The following points were raised:
· During the previous ten years, local residents have made several formal complaints to both Planning and Environmental Health at EDDC, and residents are concerned that the current application, if granted, would exacerbate the problems
· There have been occurrences of disorderly behaviour, including rowdiness and brawling on leaving the premises by a minority of patrons and this sometimes puts public safety at risk
· The most serious source of public nuisance is noise, particularly from music in the beer garden
· A recent performance of live music had been accompanied by amplified recorded backing music which could be heard in a neighbouring property which was distressing to residents
In response to a question from the Sub-Committee regarding previous complaints to EDDC Environmental Health, an interested party confirmed that a formal noise assessment had been carried out at that time and that the premises had a history of loud music.
The Sub-Committee was advised that where live music included a recorded and amplified backing track, it was still classed as live music for licensing purposes.
A formal complaint had been submitted to Environmental Health following events on the 17 and 18 April 2021 and the complainant had been advised that a letter would be sent to The Blue Ball regarding the issue.
Further points were made by the interested parties as follows:
· The Blue Ball is appreciated and respected by local residents and is a valued part of the community, however, the main issue of concern is with live music, for example, the events of Saturday 17 April when the volume rendered a neighbouring garden unusable and could not be managed within the neighbour’s property itself
· This event also raised concerns regarding the potential for anti-social behaviour impacting on the neighbouring property more frequently in future
· There are alternative areas within the premises where live music could be sited to reduce the impact on neighbouring properties
The applicant’s legal representative made a final statement and advised that the current license allows more flexibility than that now being applied for. It was noted that no responsible authority had made representations on issues of concern, including the complaint regarding the event on 17 April.
Residents were able to speak directly to the manager at The Blue Ball and would have recourse to the appropriate authority should issues arise in the future.
In response to a question from the Sub-Committee’s legal advisor, Mr Ranatunga, the applicant’s legal advisor confirmed that the applicant committed to comply with the conditions offered, notwithstanding the terms of the de-regulation of live music.
The location and direction of speakers for live music was considered. The applicant’s legal representative confirmed that the area proposed for live music and entertainment is that which was outlined at the start of the meeting and that all speakers would be inward facing and directed away from neighbouring properties.
In response to a question from one of the interested parties regarding the need for amplification in a small area, the applicant’s legal representative advised that the issue is the level at which amplified music is set, rather than the amplification itself and that the conditions of the license would seek to control noise levels.
The Chair thanked those present for participating and advised that all parties would be notified in writing of the Sub-Committee’s decision within five working days.
The meeting was adjourned at 11.10am and reconvened at 2.00pm.