Monday, 30 May 2011

Sainsburys licence application

Congratulations are due to the folks at Sustainable Redland for organising a very successful meeting about the growth of high street supermarkets last Thursday, particularly focusing on the plans for a new Sainsburys in the old Woolworths store on Blackboy Hill. There were over 50 people present and a lively discussion ensued.

I was relieved to escape intact after bearing the bad news that the planning system offers very scant protection against this trend, especially when the building already has permission for retail use, as in this case. I was asked to check whether there were any historic conditions on the site. Unfortunately, it appears not - it's been a shop for so long that it drifts back into the mists of time before proper planning restrictions existed. The bottom line is that Sainsburys have all the permissions they need to open their store, though they may well need additional permissions for signage, air conditioning or changes to the rear area.

They do, however, have to get permission to sell alcohol. An application is now in and it doesn't make for great reading. They are wanting permission for 7am to 11pm, seven days a week. The application reference is 11/01124/PREM and the deadline for making objections is 17th June. I was asked at the meeting about how people can object to a licence application, so I will explain in a little detail here to save me having to rewrite it in lots of e-mails.

Anyone who is affected by a licence application can object to it. There are no hard-and-fast rules about this, but it broadly means that you have to live nearby, so perhaps within 500m or so of the premises in question. Most importantly, the objection must refer to one or more of the four so-called 'licensing objectives'. These are:
  • the prevention of crime and disorder
  • public safety
  • the prevention of public nuisance
  • the protection of children from harm
The objection doesn't need to address all four and most relevant ones in this instance would probably be the first and third ones in the list above. It has to explain why the application would cause additional problems in these areas - the more specific, the better... one good argument is better than four bad ones.

One facet that might be worth considering is that there is a Cumulative Impact Zone around the lower end of Whiteladies Road. Under the new policy, premises outside the Zone can be included if you can demonstrate that the negative impact is felt within the Zone. In other words, if a decent case can be made that there will be more public nuisance around the Clifton Down area as a result of Sainsburys on Blackboy Hill, that would strengthen any objection considerably. I'm thinking this one through at the moment.

Your objection needs to be sent to the Council's Licensing Department, quoting the reference number above and most easily by e-mail: They will decide whether your objection is valid or not - i.e. whether you are affected and whether your objection addresses the licensing objectives. If there is at least one valid objection (as I am sure there will be), the application will be decided through a hearing at the Licensing Committee of councillors, probably in August or September. Anyone who submitted an objection is entitled to attend the hearing and to speak at it, though if there are a lot of objectors attending, a combined statement might be requested.

An interesting parallel to the Sainsburys application is that the Tesco on Stokes Croft was refused an alcohol licence by the Licensing Committee, largely due to the existing street drinking problem there. This is good evidence that the process is not just a formality, though the decision is taken on the law and evidence presented, rather than on the number of objectors. It's also worth noting that Tesco carried on with the store even without an alcohol licence, so it's not necessarily a way of blocking the store.

For me, probably the most worrying part of the Sainsburys licence application is perhaps that it quotes the store opening hours as being 24 hours, seven days a week. This isn't germain to the off licence application (which is for 7am to 11pm), but it would set a very worrying precedent for Whiteladies Road. At the moment, I can't see a particular means of preventing this, but I am also thinking this one through too.


Anonymous said...

Sir, I have been watching your site for a while and if your views were not so depressing they would be humorous. You are astonishing, frightening and just plain sad. You fight small businesses that you don't agree with when they apply in accordance with the law for a simple change of use. Now when they don't need it like Sainsbury’s you try to fight them in another way. Why are they going there Neil, because there is a DEMAND and there is an EMPTY SHOP!!! People like you that can’t do don’t’ create jobs, revenue or generate taxes for the economy. You don't provide concrete alternative business plans for these empty shops, for creating jobs for the staff that will work in them or the hundreds of thousands created in taxes. You simply criticise and encourage others to do the same. You congratulated the 'organic' shop that took over the Bottoms Up like it was the second coming, because if fitted in with YOUR views. Well Sir, wait until their enormous rent free period expires then let’s see if that's actually what people want. I also don't see your report the wasted tens of thousands of pounds that the council have to pay back to businesses when they win the unnecessary planning appeals they are forced into pursuing because you put wholly unjustifiable pressure on the local planners. Frankly for this one you should be hauled before the courts. People are living in squalor, people are getting attacked, old people are hungry, drug and alcohol addicts causing violence and crime, children are being abused, women are being batters and yet you and your cohorts waste very limited valuable resources on fighting businesses. The sad thing to all of this is you’re like the Taliban, only your opinion counts and everyone else is wrong. You shall know doubt have a fast line of BS to justify your actions. Remember Neil only a minority of people voted for you and the majority of that minority were well intentioned but inexperienced young students whom have yet to get to grips with the realities of life. Sir, you are an utterly depressing man and the epitome of why this country has gone so far downhill in recent years.

Neil Harrison said...

Anon - the shop was not empty. It was full of small traders who were given one month to quit, some losing their livelihood in the process. If you are going to post abusive comments here, at least do us all the service of getting simple facts straight first!

Ben Appleby said...

Not quite Sainburys but for those interested in the wider issue please sign the petition calling for a public inquiry into the stokes croft disturbances. One strand of this in the powerlessness that people feel when trying to use "planning" to control their environment

Anonymous said...

As well as this new sainsburys,many of us at the bottom of whiteladies are concerned about a possible new Tesco on the old Texaco garage. I know they got planning for flats and a retail unit before the reccesion,but aparantly they are reapplying? If tesco are planning to open there then im very concerned!

Neil Harrison said...

Anon II - the planning permission for the old Texaco site was renewed a few months ago. The only reference to Tesco was on the OS map extract, so hardly anyone spotted it. They must have acquired the site in the four years since the original permission. The permission is still for flats with a small shop unit beneath. I am slightly sceptical that this will get built in the short term as there is little value in housing at the moment and there is much cost in ripping out the old petrol tanks. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Neil, were they on a short license agreement or a fixed lease? Jolly big difference you know and hence why they were legaly obliged to leave. There you go, avoid the core issue and focus on a trivial point. You are an enemy of enterprise and a disgrace to the real meaning of public service. As long as it serves your public then OK, but stuff the rest of us. Taliban mentality.

Neil Harrison said...

Anon - As I understand it from one of the traders, they were on long leases with a termination clause, so they were turfed out by Sainsburys' offer. Isn't free enterprise wonderful!?

As to the rest of your ill-informed and unpleasant bile, I don't really have the energy to engage, especially as I've covered most of the nonsense before. Besides, anyone who references the Taliban (or the Nazis or Stalin or Mao or Mugabe etc etc) can't really expect to be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

Thats interesting-have also heard rumours that tesco are going to put a new petrol station on the site instead? Although I would prefer it not to be tesco,it would be far more useful to have a petrol station on the bottom of whiteladies again!

Neil Harrison said...

Anon 2 - I've not heard that rumour. I suppose if it is a refurb of an existing building, they could do that without needing new permissions, though it would need a pretty extensive refit.