Harpenden secondary school seeks licence for events

The Katherine Warington School is seeking a late alcohol licence. Picture: Supplied

The Katherine Warington School is seeking a late alcohol licence. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Katherine Warington School

Officials at Harpenden's Katherine Warington School are waiting to hear whether a bid to ‘licence’ their premises has been given the green light by councillors.

The school is seeking permission to sell alcohol between midday and 10.30pm, Sunday to Thursday – and until 1.30am on Fridays and Saturdays.

The licence would be used for a series of fundraising events at the Lower Luton Road site, as well as if the school was hired as a venue by other groups.

Their application for a premises licence was considered by a meeting of St Albans council’s licensing sub-committee on Friday.

The move had prompted 28 written objections from residents, who highlighted a range of concerns including the potential for noise nuisance, anti-social behaviour, parking issues and concerns relating to public safety.

There  was even a suggestion that the continuous licence could allow the school to act “like a nightclub”.

At the hearing, school business manager and head of IT Dean Inns stressed they were not looking to turn the school into a social club – but only to run a series of events at the site.

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He said in seeking the licence they were “following the lead” of several other schools in St Albans and Harpenden, ensuring the PTA could run fundraising events  as well as enabling the school to be used by other local community groups.

“We have no wish or desire to turn the school in to a 24/7 venue – and the licence is not intended for this purpose,” said Mr Inns.

“It will allow us to make the best use of the fantastic facilities we have available to us and the local community for a variety of events throughout the year.”

Mr Inns said the 1.30am request on the licence was primarily because the school was looking at a Winter Ball.

He repeatedly stressed that the school was “a responsible organisation” and there would only be one or two events in a year that would go on to that time.

He said that all external hires would be vetted and local residents would be told in advance of larger events.

An alternative to a premises licence would be applying for individual events, using a ‘TEN’s licence – but Mr Inns suggested this was  a “highly time consuming  and an administratively heavy process”.

At the hearing, three residents addressed the sub-committee – chaired by Cllr Richard Curthoys – to highlight their concerns.

Musician Graham Goffree said he had played at hundreds of functions where, almost without exception, the finishing time had been limited to 11pm.

He said this illustrated "how very unusual" the hours proposed at the school were and anything after 11pm was likely to cause significant public nuisance.

Resident David Cairns asked if the committee was minded to grant the licence they apply the most stringent conditions possible – and to restrict the hours and the number of events.

He pointed to the triple valley location of the site – with acoustics meaning that sound resonates over a very wide area.

He said there would be no escaping this with any event that ran into the early hours – or from noise from outside the event

Meanwhile resident Julie Angrove stressed she was not against fundraising events at the school, but was keen to ensure that "everything was kept within moderation".

She suggested that midnight would be more than adequate and in keeping with everything else in the area.

The sub-committee heard that – as part of an agreed condition – the number of events with live music outside past 11pm would be limited to three a year, and the number with recorded music outside after 11pm would also be limited to three a year.

The conditions attached to the application also stipulate that licensable activities cannot take place on the premises while they are being used for formal education purposes.

The sub-committee did not take a decision at the hearing – but will publish their decision within 10 days of the meeting.