Later alcohol licence granted to backstreet pub

The Goat Inn in Sopwell Lane, St Albans.

The Goat Inn in Sopwell Lane, St Albans. - Credit: Google Maps

A backstreet pub in a residential area of St Albans has been given the green light to serve alcohol later despite neighbours fearing it could turn the venue into a nightclub.

The Goat Inn in Sopwell Lane applied to extend their premises licence to allow for an extra hour of sales on Fridays and Saturdays but neighbours said it could lead to an increase in noise and public nuisance along their road.

The pub’s managers said they wanted to be able to take advantage of longer hours without needing to apply for temporary licences, and to standardise opening times across the week.

The pub will now be allowed to serve alcohol from 10am to midnight for most of the week, with sales up to 1am on Friday and Saturday. 

During a meeting of St Albans district council’s licensing sub-committee Cllr Jacqui Taylor said the hours were inappropriate for a residential street.

“I like pubs and they are part of the history, character and social life of St Albans, but it does not mean that anything goes for them. There are pubs in some locations in residential areas like these, that the late night hours that the Licensing Act permit where it is and never will be suitable for a premises to have late hours.

“This is not a city centre pub, it is a residential street. Other than the pubs on the street there are no other business premises, it is residential, and it’s also terraced, people’s front doors are directly onto the street and the pub is adjoining its neighbours.”

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Cllr Taylor added its location in the Conservation Area made it difficult for neighbours to soundproof their properties, and claimed one resident had moved away as a result of the noise.

She suggested the pub should introduce a proposed new dispersal policy first and, if successful, then consider any later hours.

In total there were 34 objections submitted by residents, with one letter in support of the plans.

The letters from neighbours say they are disrupted as people leave the venue, and one resident was worried the new licence “effectively changes it from a pub into a nightclub”.

Frank Fender, the pub’s representative, said in the last year there were 10 police reports for Sopwell Lane, but there was no evidence these were related to The Goat Inn, and noted there were no objections from the police or Environmental Health.

He added the pub was situated along a walking route out of the city centre, the complaints may not be linked to any of the pubs in the road, and the venue was well established in the area.

The sub-committee agreed to the majority of the changes, which will see the pub permitted to sell alcohol for an extra 30 minutes until midnight Sunday to Thursday, and an extra hour to 1am on Friday and Saturday.

The pub will also be allowed to remain open an extra 30 minutes until 12.30am Sunday-Thursday and an extra hour until 1.30am on Friday and Saturday.

The only part of the application the committee did not fully permit was to limit the playing recorded music on Friday and Saturdays up to 12.30am, rather than 1am as applied for.

The committee said: “We have heard evidence from residents, both written and oral, about the disturbance caused to some residents by music played at the premises. We recognise that the premises is in a predominantly residential area. However, we note that the premises is a well-established public house with other public houses nearby.”

It adds Environmental Health did not make any representations against the application, and said necessary conditions are already in place to control noise from the venue.  

The committee was also satisfied that a new dispersal policy will encourage customers to leave the venue quietly.

The dispersal policy will include a requirement for the volume of music to be reduced and for lighting to be gradually increased during the final 30 minutes of an event.

Staff will also be required to make a specific announcement asking customers to leave the venue quietly, and those waiting for taxis should remain inside the pub, up to the licenced closing time.