New £20m Brighton seafront club in licensing deal Brighton News

POLICE said people leaving an exclusive private club in Brighton could become victims of crime if given a 2am license.

Soho House wants its new Madeira Drive venue – the Little Beach House – to stay open until 2 a.m. every day.

But Brighton and Hove City Council’s licensing policy normally requires a 11pm closing time for private clubs.

Club representatives spent six hours trying to persuade a licensing panel, made up of three advisers, to make an exception.

They told the licensing panel hearing that they could compromise on licensing hours at the site’s coworking space, Soho Works, limiting hours to 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Soho House had no objections to proposed hours for its public restaurant, The Kiosk, which could trade from 10 a.m. to midnight. The closing time would be in accordance with board policy.

But Sussex Police Licensing Officer Mark Thorogood said a 2am license for the private Soho House club put patrons at risk of becoming victims of crime.

He said the times coincided with when most crime happened on the waterfront. And the location was in the Queen’s Park area, which had the third-highest level of alcohol-related incidents recorded by the police. The nearby Regency area had the highest rate of alcohol-related crime in Brighton and Hove.

The panel was told that the private club at Soho House would have a capacity of 500, which would increase the number of people in the bustling center of Brighton.

Mr Thorogood said: ‘I wish venues could state they would take action to ensure their customers get home safely, but that’s just not possible.

“You are going to have people leaving maybe at 11pm who want to continue their evening in Brighton in other venues. They might decide to walk to the station for the last train rather than take a taxi there.

“It may be a hot summer night and they just want to sit on the beach. It is the question of when they left the places that concern us.

Customers would be encouraged to leave via Madeira Drive, which had no taxi rank or pick-up point, the panel said.

Mr Thorogood said this could lead to vehicles backing up to the Aquarium roundabout and beyond as the road was one-way.

He was concerned that Soho House’s submission was not up to date as it said the venue was next to the Brighton Wheel which fell in 2016.

Sussex Police also said alcohol-related events such as weddings and birthday parties should not be permitted.

Trevor Scoble of the Kingscliffe Society expressed concern about the effect of up to 40 events a year closing Madeira Drive and said the one-way street would end taxi pick-ups in the area.

He also raised safety concerns for people leaving the site because, he said, the roads leading north from Marine Parade had low level lighting.

Mr Scoble said: ‘These are residential streets and very narrow. These pose a problem for everyone. They are unattractive and that is where the crime happens.

Soho House member Marvin Avilez, who lives in Brighton, backed the bid. He said the company held its members to high standards of behavior – and it was not about booze but a networking place for creatives to work and socialize.

Soho House lawyer Lana Tricker said the venue was not a nightclub or a stopping off point for a pub crawl, but a place of destination in its own right for its members of the film industries , media and creation.

She said the company held long leases across all of its sites and had invested £20million in the Little Beach House.

The Brighton site was in the council’s Cumulative Impact Zone (CIZ), where stricter rules restrict new liquor licenses as the area was ‘saturated’ with licensed premises.

Ms Tricker said Soho House operated in ‘cumulative impact zones’ in other cities, including Soho and Shoreditch, with 3am licenses.

She said: “Soho House is not a nightclub environment. It does not favor crowded areas. The requirement that alcohol must be incidental to food or only for seated people, we cannot not accept that, because members can come and have a drink if they wish.

“We have a proven track record of regulating alcohol consumption with our members. We have no history or reputation for drunkenness or irresponsible behavior.

The private members’ club would have its own restaurant, Club Cecconi, where patrons would be seated at tables and served.

But Ms Tricker said license conditions should not require customers to be served drinks at the table. Instead, the terms should only require table service to be available throughout the venue, she said.

One panel member, Labor councilor Jackie O’Quinn, said table service was something the council always asked of businesses with a cafe-style license similar to the license sought by Soho House.

She said: “You say people want to move around, but what we would like to have is a condition… that people are served by a waiter or a waitress, which is pretty standard.”

The panel retired to consider its decision which is expected to be made public within five working days.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-21 06:56:33

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