New alcohol licence granted in Bedford's restricted zone

Councillors have granted a new alcohol licence to a proposed tea room, event space, and members only club in a heavily controlled part of town.

Applicants Poonam and Bali Chand told a Bedford Council committee on Wednesday (June 5) that 3 St Peter’s Street would be a high class operation which would operate under very strict rules.

3 St Peter's Street

3 St Peter's Street

Concerns were raised by the police, and the council’s own environmental health and licensing departments, and the Chands appeared before the licensing sub-committee to put their case.

The police and environmental health officers withdrew their objections before the hearing, but the licensing officer, Geoff Potter, had concerns about who would run the venue.

The plan is to run it as a tea room Friday to Sunday but have a function room/ conference facilities for up to 80 people from Mondays to Thursday. It would turn into a members only club on a Friday and Saturday evenings.

Poonam Chand said: “It will provide food and drink for the older crowd. We love our town but the needs of the over 30s are not being met and what we want is not there.

“A lot of people our age can’t go out,” she added. The venue, which will be called 3 St Peter’s, will not have loud music or beer on tap.

St Peter’s Street sits on the edge of an area covered by the council’s Community Impact Policy, where the onus is on new licensees to prove that their activities won’t add to anti-social behaviour in the town centre.

The Chands’ licensing agent, Frank Fender told the committee that if all the concerns could be met, the councillors had to grant permission. “It is a rebuttable presumption against new licences,” he said.

Mr Fender added that there had been long discussions to agree conditions with the police and the environmental health department. There are plans for five residential flats within the building and they have to be protected against noise.

Mr Fender and his clients were quizzed during the two and a quarter hour meeting, which included time for council officers to discuss additional conditions with the applicants.

Committee chairman, Cllr Sarah Gallagher (Lib Dem, Eastcotts), confirmed that the licence would be granted as long as door staff were employed on Friday and Saturday nights for two months.

They also set a condition that the venue had to close between 5pm and 5.30pm to make sure that the venue could convert from a tea room to a members’ only club.

After the hearing, the Chands said they were very happy with the decision.