‘Sophisticated’ wine bar seeks premises licence to open in Harpenden

Station Road, Harpenden. Picture: Krishan Bhungar.

Station Road, Harpenden. Picture: Krishan Bhungar. - Credit: Archant

The team behind plans for a ‘sophisticated’ wine bar in the heart of upmarket Harpenden are waiting to hear if they’ll be allowed to serve alcohol – or not. 

They’ve already revamped the Station Road venue, which was formerly a wine shop and a wine bar. 

And they’ve even started to train their staff – ready for their opening night. 

But a resident living in the flat above has objected to their application for a premises licence – amid fears the venue will create too much noise and disruption. 

On Thursday the applicants and the resident made their case in front of a meeting of St Albans council’s licensing sub-committee. 

Speaking for all the applicants, FMC Hospitality, Helena Fletcher highlighted their many years of collective experience in hospitality. 

That had, she said, included working in five-star hotels and Michelin starred restaurants, with professionals that included Gordon Ramsay. 

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And she said they were “completely ‘au fait’ with how to run a quality establishment”. 

She also told the sub-committee how, since taking over the premises last year, they had done a ‘fairly substantial amount of refurbishment work’ – including investment in design, sound-proofing, CCTV, lighting and landscaping. 

However, when the company made an application for a premises licence earlier this year, an objection was lodged by resident Katie Miles-Kemp – who lives directly above the ground-floor wine bar. 

In her objection, Ms Miles-Kemp outlined her concerns that noise through the windows would impact on her and her children, as they tried to sleep.

And she suggested that 11pm should be the latest the wine bar was allowed to open. 

She also asked for reassurances that the surrounding areas would be kept ‘clean and tidy’ and that bottles would not be emptied into outside bins until after 9am the next day. 

And at the meeting of the sub-committee, she repeated her suggestion that the venue should close by 11pm, "in line with other drinking establishments in Harpenden". 

At the meeting, Mrs Fletcher stressed that the venue – with just nine tables on the ground floor – would be "more akin to restaurant than a bar". 

And she said management would open the door for departing guests and remind then to be respectful of neighbours as they left. 

She said staff would be told not to remove any empty bottles from the previous evening until after 9am. 

And she said they had already asked for waste not to be removed from the rear of the building until 8am – but would be happy to see if that could be after 9am instead. 

“We have every intention to run this as a sophisticated restaurant bar and eatery – not a nightclub,” she said. 

“We don’t intend on doing late night parties, ‘lock-ins’ or anything that would compromise our premises licence.” 

The applicants are asking for a licence to allow then to sell alcohol and play music from 11am until 11pm six days a week – and until 10pm on Sundays. 

And they are seeking permission for the premises, at 26 Station Road, to remain open until midnight, seven days a week. 

After hearing from both parties, the licensing sub-committee – chaired by Cllr David Heritage considered the submissions in private. Their decision will be published within 10 days of the hearing.