Sex entertainment venue’s bid to open as nightclub is blocked
CAMPAIGNERS against ‘sleaze’ in Old Town have won a victory against sexual entertainment venues in the area, which last month won coveted ‘Portas Pilot’ regeneration money.
Warwick District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday refused planning permission for Court Street bar Amara to open as a nightclub - even though it has permission for nude stage dancing.
The pub currently holds a drinks licence until 3am from Sundays to Thursdays and 4am on Fridays and Saturdays. In April it was granted a sex entertainment licence for the same times, excluding Sundays.
Owners of the Court Street venue applied for a change of use with opening hours extended until 3am from Mondays to Wednesdays and 6am from Thursdays to Sundays.
But an objection from Warwickshire Police’s crime prevention officer asked for opening times to remain the same, saying there would be no policing between 4am and 6am.
The council’s head of planning Tracy Darke played this down, saying officials had asked for further details from the police authority but had received no response.
But Leamington town councillor Gurpreet Dulay (Lab Willes) asked the committee to refuse permission, citing rising crime.
He said: “Approving this would increase crime and stretch an already overstretched police force.”
Cllr Jane Knight warned of the effect on regeneration after Old Town won £100,000 in Portas Pilot funding. She said if the application was approved developers would get the impression of a “sleazy” area and that many in Old Town did not want the club.
The committee agreed. Cllr Ann Blacklock (Lib Dem, Kenilworth Abbey) said: “If we allow this application we might as well give the Mary Portas money back.”
Committee chairman George Illingworth, a member of the regulatory committee that granted the sex entertainment licence, said the impression had been that it was a nightclub.
Cllr Richard Brookes (Con, Bishops Tachbrook) at first supported the application, but with the previous opening hours, but then proposed refusal, saying nightclubs were not among uses supported under regeneration policy, and citing planning guidelines supporting community cohesion and preventing crime and disorder.
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