Agenda item

SO.UK, 165 Clapham High Road, London, SW4 7SS (Clapham Town)


Presentation by the Licensing Officer

The Sub-Committee was informed that this was an application for a variation of a premises licence. The Sub-Committee’s attention was drawn to Chapters 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10 of the Statutory Guidance, and to Chapter 5 of the Statement of Licensing Policy, as the ones particularly relevant to this application. The options available to the Sub-Committee were set out in paragraphs 5.2 of the report on page 177 of the agenda papers.


The Licensing Officer confirmed:


·      This was a variation application.

·      The application was to vary the layout of the premises in order to increase the capacity from 100 persons to 150 persons.

·      The applicant also wished to modify conditions restricting capacity.

·      Following mediation, two of the three representations submitted by Lambeth Licensing and Public Protection teams had been withdrawn. Following the additional conditions which had been agreed, a copy of the conditions had been distributed to all relevant parties.

·      The application could be found on pages 159 to 188 of the agenda papers.

·      The plan could be found on page 189 of the agenda papers. Representations could be found on pages 205 to 212.  



Presentation by the applicant

Mr Lee Chapman, applicant, informed the Sub-Committee that:


·      He had been the owner of the premises for 19 years.

·      His wife grew up in the flat above the premises.

·      The premises had undergone refurbishment recently and had been rebranded as a high-class cocktail bar.

·      No representations had been made from any responsible authorities and he had a good relationship with the Police and Licensing team.

·      The premises would not over-saturate the area with licensed premises.

·      The increased capacity did not mean that the premises would be full every night.

·      The premises would have increased security and trained SIA staff members.

·      The premises would have more private parties, VIP tables and cocktail-making master-classes.

·      Private area space was already available at the premises but the additional business from the proposed changes would add to its revenue.

·      The application would have no impact on patrons leaving the premises and a taxi service was available across the road.

·      Any Uber taxis that parked outside the premises would be monitored by security.

·      The premises was not usually rowdy and there had never been drunkenness associated with the premises nor had there been any issues with the Police previously.

·      A Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) had been completed which justified the capacity of 151 people in the premises. He was only looking for a maximum capacity of 150.

·      He communicated well with the Council and had agreed proposed conditions.

·      The business had invested in the borough for very long time.


In response to questions from Members, Mr Chapman, informed the Sub-Committee that:


·      The capacity of the premises had previously been 100 persons. This was partly because the rear door was too small for a higher capacity. The premises had since been refurbished and the door had been widened, resulting in a re-evaluation of the FRA and a modified premises capacity.

·      The premises was unlikely to run at a full capacity of 150 people every night, but more patrons were expected during the weekends than previously. Adequate staff and security would be on hand to deal with the increased number of patrons.

·      The private parties would be held by patrons who would be allocated an area to themselves.

·      Patrons would not be allowed to make unreasonable levels of noise.

·      The security staff was proactive in the outside areas of the premises.

·      Security and staff also ensured that no patron would be drinking excessively, and any individual appearing to be drunk would be refused service.  Additionally, patrons would not be allowed to become inebriated to then go on to commit antisocial behaviour outside the premises.

·      The applicant had worked with responsible authorities.

·      Councillors could be given the manager’s number to contact him in case of any issues.

·      Extra security and management staff, in addition to regular staff, would be appointed and deployed on particularly busy nights.

·      The back area inside the premises would not be open unless bookings had been made (this included the cocktail bar and eating areas). Staff would be aware 2 to 3 days in advance, before the weekend, of the number of people who would be attending.

·      The applicant was a member of the BCRP scheme and maintained communication with other premises in the area via radio.


Presentation by interested parties


Councillor Linda Bray informed the Sub-Committee that:


·      She directed the Sub-Committee’s attention to her written representation.

·      She was concerned about the cumulative impact of licensed premises in Clapham High Street (which was categorised as a cumulative impact zone).

·      The application opened the possibility of the addition of 150 people in an already busy area full of people, many of whom would already have been drinking.

·      Some of the licensed premises in the area had a terminal hour of 03:30.

·      Most of the problems in Clapham High Street were caused on Thursday to Saturday nights.

·      There were serious problems regarding alcohol related crime in the area after midnight.

·      There had been increases of sexual assault, street urination and a 44% increase in violent incidents between 00:00 and 06:00 in the area.

·      It was not clear where the additional chairs and tables would be situated, raising concerns of an increase in vertical drinking.

·      The premises had not physically become bigger but was looking to accommodate an additional 50 people in the same premises, which indicated an increase in standing patrons.

·      There was a danger of increased drunkenness and anti-social behaviour.

·      It was not clear what the “supply of alcohol ancillary to food” actually meant.

·      The conditions were not detailed enough to prevent vertical drinking at the premises.

·      Stronger conditions regarding drinking whilst patrons were seated were required.

·      The additional numbers of inebriated people frequenting the High Street would be too high if the application was granted.


In response to questions from Members, Councillor Bray informed the Sub-Committee that:


·      Patrons occupying the outside area of the premises would still be on the pavement even if the area was fenced off. This would increase noise nuisance to residents which was already close to residential areas.

·      Allowing 20 people outside the premises was higher than numbers usually allowed in other licensed premises.

·      A number of noise complaints from the area had been submitted in 2018 and 2019.

·      The additional number of people attracted to the area as a result of the application would increase pressures on the Police, Ambulance and Clapham Business Improvement District (BID) wardens.

·      She had received informal complaints about the premises creating noise and was aware of noise emanating from the premises in the past.

·      The additional 50 people admitted into the premises may lead to it becoming a more vertical drinking establishment rather than a food-led establishment. This would also lead to an impact on Clapham High Street, which was already heavily stressed due to other licensed premises in the area. This would increase the existing problems on the High Street, such as noise nuisance from patrons when they left the premises.

·      She was pleased to see extra security employed by the applicant. However, 20 people being allowed into the outside area was too high.

·      A decrease in the number of people allowed into the outside area would help. It was reasonable for the premises to have an area where people would be allowed to smoke outside, but 20 people occupying the area could not be easily managed. This was complicated by large numbers of people walking up and down the High Street and people queuing to get into the premises.


At this point the proceedings, in response to questions from Members, Mr Chapman informed the Sub-Committee that there were two tables and 10 chairs in the outside area. The admittance of 20 people in that area had been allowed for the last 15 to 16 years. The premises had never had any problems with noise, people raising voices or drunkenness and the chairs were usually taken away by 22:00.


In response to further questions from Members, Councillor Bray informed the Sub-Committee that:


·      She was sure that the applicant would do their best to control people coming in and out of the premises. However, in Clapham High Street, particularly on a Saturday night, there would be increased volumes of people on the street and in a state of drunkenness, and although the applicant might be able to control the people directly outside the premises, they would not be able to control patrons after they left the premises.  Additionally, these patrons could cause additional issues for Police and other authorities who regulated criminal activity in the area.


The applicant was recalled to address matters arising. In response to questions from Members, Mr Chapman informed the Sub-Committee that:


·      The number of patrons occupying the outside area (20 persons) was something the premises had always been allowed to do in the last 15 to 16 years. This had received no complaints from residents. However, people were still not allowed to raise their voices in the area.

·      Patrons were not allowed to stay in the smoking area after they had finished their cigarette. The area was policed by the 2 to 3 SIA staff working at the door. Patrons were not allowed to take a food or drinks into the outside area and they had to use the outside area if they wanted to smoke.

·      People had been ejected from the outside area if they were too loud, but this only happened occasionally.

·      The premises was a late night cocktail bar and it served a range of different kinds of food.

·      The downstairs area had been refurnished with tables and there was space for 125 patrons to eat in that area, with little room for vertical drinking.

·      Most patrons in the premises would be seated and those who were standing would be persuaded to sit. Those sitting would be the only ones who could be given VIP treatments and be given table and bottle service.

·      The premises did not usually get a ‘passing trade’ and was usually pre-booked.

·      There would be adequate security to match the number of patrons occupying the premises.

·      The applicant had a dispersal policy and would agree to develop a queuing policy.

·      The premises would employ professional staff such as managers, waiters and SIA qualified security staff. She would ensure that on any night there would be enough staff members to maintain order at the premises at all times.

·      The premises had a dispersal policy and had not received any complaints from residents regarding dispersal.

·      Many of the local residents had the manager’s mobile numbers and they were able to call the managers to discuss any issues.

·      He had received a complaint approximately six months ago about noise caused by bottles being taken out at the back of the premises. It was later discovered that the noise was emanating from the premises two doors down.


Adjournment and Decision


At 8:56pm, the Sub-Committee withdrew from the meeting together with the Legal Advisor and Clerk to deliberate in private. The Sub-Committee had heard and considered representations all those who spoke. Legal advice was given to the Sub-Committee on the options open to them and the need for any decision to be proportionate. The Sub-Committee decided to grant the application subject to conditions.


RESOLVED: To grant the application subject to conditions.


Announcement of Decision


Members returned to the meeting and the Chair informed those present of the decision to grant the application subject to conditions. The Sub-Committee commended the applicants for recognising the needs of the cumulative impact zone and some of the issues in the local community. The application for the variation was granted subject to the additional conditions agreed, including the applicant settling a queuing strategy with the Licensing team. 


The Sub-Committee also felt that it would be proportionate for the applicant, who would be operating in a cumulative impact zone, to be cognisant of the number of people smoking outside the premises. The Sub-Committee did not feel there was enough evidence to merit interfering with the existing proposed condition; and that the premises, as managed by staff and SIA personnel, would be able to promote the licensing objectives including when patrons occupied the outside area.The Sub-Committee stressed that the applicant should continue to cooperate with the Clapham BID and Police which was critical for a premises located in a cumulative impact zone. If the Sub-Committee became aware of any complaints from local residents relating to the premises, then this would be dealt with accordingly. 


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