Jesmond Network News
The Jesmond Network
Some of you will be more concerned about the developments of the Bars and other businesses in Jesmond than others, and the Jesmond Network includes people with a very wide range of views on this and other matters. It certainly includes representatives from all the political parties, from business and residents groups, young and old. But what does unite this group is the belief that Enough is Enough!
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Perhaps the longest running saga in respect of the bars in Jesmond centres around the Gresham Hotel. What you may not realise, is that Newcastle City Council and the Police also say that the number of bars in Osborne Road has reached (or gone beyond) an acceptable limit. Why the Gresham Hotel application for a Liquor Licence is special is that the owners, Ultimate Leisure plc., chose to use an exceptional Licensing procedure known as the Special Removal. This allows them to use an historic licence (pre-1904) from another pub elsewhere and simply transfer it to a new building. Ultimate Leisure had already done this successfully on the Quayside where they transferred a licence from a Sandyford pub which had caught fire to Chase, the pre-club bar at the foot of Dean Street.
A Special Removal allowed a licence to be transferred from one pub to another without having the Licensing Magistrates looking into all the issues of location, impact on the surrounding area and on residents, traffic and so on. In fact, the Police and Council have made it clear that they would have objected to the Gresham licence application in Osborne Road if only they could!
That's where you, as a resident came in. Ultimate Leisure developed the Gresham at the corner of Grosvenor Road and Osborne Road, a former "boarding house" popular with truck drivers and which adjoins its neighbouring home to 11 individuals who benefit from a caring and supportive community, into a modern lively pub with 11 hotel rooms upstairs. Residents objected vigorously at the Licensing Magistrates hearing, despite the severe restrictions in what the law on Special Removals allowed the Magistrates to consider.
That was in December 2002.
The same happened again in January 03, when the Licence was refused after four days of hearing.
They lodged an Appeal against that refusal and simultaneously they also promptly re-applied for the Licence all over again - that new Application began to be heard at Gosforth Magistrates Court in March '03 when it was swiftly adjourned. That adjourned Application for their Licence was heard again on 7th April when Mr Gourriet, a Barrister acting for residents, asked for a Judicial Review of the proceedings by a Judge. He argued that residents Human Rights were being denied by the Special Removal.
The Judicial Review was heard on July 18th and considered just how much opposition should be heard by Newcastle Magistrates (from residents, the police and others). However, Mr Justice Owen could not agree that the proceedings in the Newcastle Magistrates Court were so unlawful that the process should be halted, nor that the Licensing Act was being misapplied.
The case resumed in Newcastle on November 26th 2003.
Jesmond residents have voiced a great many reasons why they don't want another bar in Osborne Road - but as the Magistrates are able to only consider the Suitability of the Applicant and Suitability of the Premises, then that's what was discussed in Court.
It was the soundproofing of the wall between the bar and the residents nextdoor which led to the Magistrates refusing the Licence in January.
Residents were dissapointed that the Magistrates permitted the Special Removal at the end of that hearing on 1st December and the Bar at the Gresham began trading immediately.
However, on reading the Magistrates' decision carefully it is clear that they did not consider much of the evidence presented to them, and that their decision was inconsistent with their earlier decision on the same details, so an application was immediately lodged for another Judicial Review of their decision. That Review by Justice Lightman began in the High Court, on The Strand in London on 6th February and concluded on Thursday 4th March 2004 with the decision that the original hearing by Newcastle Magistrates in Nov/Dec was not correctly conducted, that the licence should be quashed and that if the applicant wishes to re-submit an application it should be heard in front of a differently constituted bench! A victory for residents! However, Ultimate Leisure immediately appealed against his decision and also asked for the right to remain open in the meantime. That right was granted and the Appeal was heard on May 24th and 25th.
They lost the appeal, but in a last minute attempt to stay open, on the very day that the Judgement against them was announced, they appeared in front of Newcastle Magistrates again, this time applying for three consecutive 21-day "Occassional" Licences for the bar. Largely because the obvious objectors such as the City Council and the hundreds of residents didn't know about this application until the last minute, they were awarded their Ocassional Licences.
Now, they are re-applying for the Special Removal of the old Licence from Mims Bar all over again. The hearing of that application began on 10th August 2004 at which the date for the next part of the hearing was set for August 23rd 04. The parties agreed the directions from the various High Court judgements and confirmed that other background information is agreed; the full hearing will then be set for a later date again. At that time, all the evidence will have to be presented afresh.
Meanwhile, Newcastle's Planning Department needs to decide if it can enforce any Planning restrictions on the Gresham. To help them, residents could keep the Planners informed of any activities which appear to be in breach of their permission to operate as an hotel with ancilliary bar.
Many of you living in Jesmond know just how much sound passes through your wall from your neighbours. Although the Gresham now has considerable soundproofing attached to the wall that divides it from its neighbouring homes, the other side of that wall is someone's home. Actually, its home for several residents, some of whom already have difficulties with life, and who simply don't want the noise and activity of a bar right next to their home - not just the noise that may be reduced by soundproofing or double glazing, but also the noise of all the activity associated with a bar, inside and out, during the day and especially after hours.
Then, the 2003 Licensing Act came into effect from late 2005. On the one hand, this will enable the Local Authority to allow Osborne Road to remain open till a time that the Council will set, possible 11pm and possibly 12 midnight - on the other hand, it will make it much easier for residents to have their objections taken into account.
In a Newcastle Journal article by Howard Walker on 27th February 2003, Ultimate Leisure Chairman Allan Rankin was quoted as saying the Magistrates hearing of the Gresham's Licence that January had been a "PR catastrophe" and said the company would work with residents to find a solution to the issue.
They then increased the soundproofing through the wall that separates the bar from the bedrooms next door in an attept to improve it. You may feel that is an adequate "solution".
The information here may help you in deciding how you could respond to these persistent attempts by Ultimate Leisure to open a bar where over 95% of residents interviewed said "no". (survey of 1,000 residents).
In 2006, its started all over again! Yes, its true! Ultimate Leisure may have got rid of its Chairman Allan Rankin and Manager Bob Senior but they are very much still active in developing Newcastle's night life with bars and clubs, some with a strong adult content. Well they were behind yet another Licence application for the Gresham, in the name of Kickpoint Ltd. which is a non-trading company operated from the office of their law firm. Kickpoint applied for a Licence to sell alcohol at a bar in the Gresham Hotel again in 2006. But First, it might be worth looking at why the Gresham Hotel is so special.
Enough is Enough!
If this application for a Special Removal Licence in Osborne Road succeeds, there is one more of them in Newcastle waiting to used before they become obsolete under the new Act. It is owned by the Weatherspoons chain - and it has been rumoured that it might even be applied to another bar on the site of the former Osborne Garage if the Gresham gets its Licence.
The Gresham case is also significant in three ways:-
1. A Special Removal is an expensive way of Licencing a Bar.
An applicant would use one if they thought that a routine licence would be refused. And it is clear to Ultimate Leisure that there would be serious objections from the Police, the Council and Residents if they did apply for a normal Licence.
They know their proposal would be rejected.
The only two questions which the Magistrates have to confirm when granting a Special Removal is "Is the Applicant a fit and proper person " and "Are the premises to be licenced structurally deficient or structurally unsuitable".
2. The Gresham Hotel does not have Planning Permission to operate as a bar.
They have been told that if they were to apply it would be refused. Some say that its prior life as an hotel permitted it to have a bar and so it doesn't need any new permission (This is known as The Emma Hotels case) ; and some say that the percentage of the building used as a bar amounts to a completely different sort of use of the building which does require Planning Permission. But they opened on 1st December 03 and trading as a bar without permission, waiting to see if the City Council is going to do anything about it. It is well known that enforcing planning restrictions must wait until they start trading and even then, enforcement is a slow and costly process.
3. The residents of Jesmond around the Gresham Hotel have a Democratic Right to be heard by the Court. The Gresham Hotel would bring the indoor and outdoor pub culture of Osborne Road a little further North and East, into an area that currently has no bars, with all the inconvenience they bring to neighbours who until now have had a relatively untroubled home life. And they have a right to object to protect the quality of life.
But the "Special Removal" attempts to deny that right.
The final blow for some people was that they learnt that the Special Removal would not even allow the Magistrates to consider the use of the car park, even though the operators would not deny that they would permit customers to drink in the rear car park and paved front and side gardens as is so popular in the gardens of other bars in Osborne Road.
So it was a great relief to many residents who had given up so much time to trying to stop this endless attempt by Ultimate Leisure to open another bar, to hear that the case would be examined to see how our Human Rights are being denied by this type of Licencing without the full approvals and consultation. And it was a great disspointment that the Judge felt that the Licensing Act itself did not contravene the Human Rights Convention, although Magistrates would have to be careful to ensure that their application of the Law did not contravene the Convention.
They lost in their first attempt to Licence the Gresham Hotel in January 2003. They used their pre-1904 Licence from another bar which they believed could be transferred with very little difficulty from one bar to another. But the Magistrates refused it.
They promptly re-applied.
The next Hearing in April 03 raised the question of whether residents' Human Rights were being challenged and was then adjourned for a Judicial Review of the procedures being used. However, Justice Owen in the High Court did not agree that residents' Human Rights were being denied. The case resumed in November when the Magistrates simply disregarded much of the evidence presented by residents and the City Council and granted the Licence.
The "Bar Bacca" at the Gresham began trading in December 03.
Leave to take THAT decision to the High Court for a Judicial Review was permitted and The Gresham continued trading at a very quiet level. Then on 15th March 2004, Justice Lightman agreed with residents that the Newcastle Magistrates had been wrong to licence the Gresham and ordered the licence to be quashed. Ultimate Leisure appealled but they lost (June 04).
Then, the same afternoon, they applied for 3 consecutive "occasional" licences (generally used for school fetes, church bazzars etc.), which Newcastle Magistrates granted. That decision was then taken to the High Court for another Judicial Review but that Judge decided that there was nothing wrong in them having "occasional" licences to replace the "quashed" Special Removal.
They took the decision by the High Court to quash their Licence to the House of Lords, and ironically, they won - but won at a time when the new Licensing Act was in force so they had gained a Licence which had become unusable, quite worthless. But it did let them a the claim for costs.
Residents with Jim Cousins MP celebrating with a drink outside the Gresham on April 8th 03
(its sparking water) Ultimate Leisure are still struggling to get the message.
It doesn't stop there.
Some residents fear that the developments of the evening economy on Osborne Road will continue until the point where the trend moves on elsewhere, leaving a trail of bars which no longer receive investment, are no longer popular and gradually go into decline. They could hardly be turned back into homes again. Yes, the future is never clear so you can only guess for yourself how our community might look in ten years time. But whatever your view, make your voice heard while you can make a difference.
The Minerva Hotel applied for Planning Permission to expand at the rear, build a canopy at the front and create a licensed restaurant. This was refused in July - residents objections will have had a part to play.
The Cairn Hotel applied for permission to expand at the rear with a three storey extension - this permission was granted by the Council in July 02.
The Caledonian Hotel applied for permission to pave the front garden and build new boundary fencing with planters. That too was approved by the Council in July 02.
The Ferncourt Hotel applied for permission to pave its front garden and build new boundary fencing. There were many objections and the Council only approved it if there was NO EATING & DRINKING in the garden. The hotel appealed to the Planning Inspectorate but lost.
The former Nat West Bank in Sun Life House in Archbold Terrace (near Jesmond Metro) has applied for and received a Public Entertainments Licence from the City Council and applied for a Liquor Licence from the Magistrates, along with a Special Hours Certificate to enable them to stay open until 1am. After some adjournments, this was heard on May 17th. Despite some objections, these applications were granted. The Applicant, Duncan Fisher, opened The Apartment in Collingwood Street (City Centre) in summer 2003.
The New Northumbria Hotel has bought the neighbouring Da Vincis Restaurant and has reopened it as Louis restaurant. Newcastle City Planners agreed to permit the use of the garden for meals for a 60 days of the year only. They refused the use of the garden for drinking unless with a meal on one of those 60 days.
The Ferncourt Hotel has applied for Planning Permission to pave over its front garden, build a canopy and provide more toilets. Newcastle City Council permitted these developments with the condition that "The front garden . . . . shall at no time be used for outdoor eating or drinking" but, the hotel then Appealled to the Planning Inspectorate against the Council's refusal. The Planning Inspectorate refused the Ferncourt's Appeal.
In 2007, under its new name of The Jesmond Hotel, they have re-applied for planning permission to let people sit and drink outside during the daytimes only.
The Minerva Hotel has applied for planning permission to serve the general public (not just residents) in a new restaurant and to build out a conservatory extension at the back which will greatly increase the capacity. They also intend to reconstruct the interior by replacing the current 2 stories of accommodation with 3 stories at the rear.
The Kenilworth Hotel has received a full On-Licence, (with restriction to table service for 100 persons and a max. of third litre drinks).
The Caledonian Hotel has applied for Planning Permission to pave over its garden and build more substantial boundary fencing and planters.
The Caledonian has also now appealed against the refusal for building extensions to the cafe area to the rear.
The Adelphi Hotel has applied for Planning Permission to increase the number of rooms to let from 3 to 8.
The Grosvenor Hotel applied for planning permission to convert the hotel into flats. Residents objected and the City Council refused the application but the applicant submitted a revised application which was approved in principle in December 2003.
The former school at Jesmond Dene House is being considered by developers Rivergreen Developments for conversion into a luxury hotel. (plans can be seen in the Civic Centre and comments can be made to the Planning Department). These developers were responsible for the conversion of Seaham Hall Hotel. They received a Public Entertainments Licence from the City Council in April, and are applying for a liquor licence and a "Special Hours Certificate". The developers insist that these will only be used for pre-booked functions, diners in the restaurant and hotel guests, but some nearby residents are very concerned at the nuisance that they expect late at night when people leave after the bar closes at 1am. Others have been concerned about the risk of drinkers from elsewhere being admitted after 11pm and about the risk of the hotel being sold on to another operator with that 1am Licence. This hearing will be heard on September 27th 2004.
The former Scout Shop opposite the Osborne Avenue junction with Osborne Road became "Oldfields" restarant in 2003. Planning Permission for a restaurant with up to 75 covers was refused by the City Council, but the operator Bill Oldfield appealled to the Planning Inspectorate and won. He claims to offer a quality cuisine with no bar service and no outdoor eating or drinking. Just as residents predicted, delivery vehicles regularly park on the zig-zag Pedestrian Crossing zone and the bus stop. A Liquor Licence was granted although he was giving free wine away for a few weeks until the Licence was granted.
Please keep checking the LATEST NEWS section of this web site for new developments. If you don't have internet access at home, you will be welcomed with practical help at Jesmond Library.
Other Licence Applications are still coming through from time to time. In 2005 we saw extended hours granted at the Jesmond Hotel on Jesmond Road.
Under the old (1964) Act back in May '04, we saw a Public Entertainments Licence Application for the Jesmond Dene House be challenged in the Civic Centre. This was granted, but the hours were cut back and perhaps residents' objections had played a part in that process.
The Public Entertainments Licence not only allows Entertainment but also fulfils a condition required for a later application for a late liquor licence (Referred to as a Section 77 "Special Hours Certificate")
The operator of The Aparment in Collingwood Street Newcastle applied for a bar licence (a full On-Licence) and a Special Hours Certificate for the former Nat West Bank in Archbold Terrace. That was approved in May 2004 despite some residents' objections.
What can I do?
If you have a view about any of these developments - make it known!
Our network includes specialists living in Jesmond who care about their community and who have given up some of their time to do the research, to write letters and to speak at hearings and in Court to express those views. But you mustn't assume that others will be able to speak for you. If you feel strongly, you should make your own views known to the people listed below, and if you wish, be prepared to stand up and say so to the Licensing Committee at a hearing. You'll be in good company.
You should also write with a list of your reasons to the Licencing Unit at Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Unit, Room 604, Civic Centre, Newcastle NE1 8PB.
The Network of residents and local groups working to put a limit on the number of bars in our community need real help. The network needs some expert knowledge in some specialist areas, we need practical help in delivering leaflets and letting other people know what's happening, and we believe individuals should always put their own views in writing.
Information about developments seems to change continuously.
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