St Albans’ Havana Club appeals to overturn decision over licence

Havana Club

Havana Club - Credit: Archant

A CLUB in St Albans criticised for disturbing neighbours with noise has appealed to the Secretary of State after an application for a certificate of lawfulness was rejected by the district council.

Christine Wood, owner of Havana, Victoria Street, applied for a lawful development certificate for an existing use, including for dance classes, club nights, comedy shows, live music, charity events and as a nightclub.

But St Albans district council knocked back the application, saying that there was insufficient evidence to show that the site had been used for dance classes, associated activities and as a nightclub over a continuous period during the last 10 years.

A spokeswoman for Secretary of State for local government Eric Pickles said a public inquiry will be held on the scheme at the council offices from 10am on Tuesday, July 16.

A council planning officer’s report said Havana, in the St Albans conservation area, had submitted conflicting information on how the club was used and that it was not precise enough.

The report said that Ms Wood had previously stated that the premises had not been used as a nightclub.

It added: “However the current application refers to a nightclub forming part of the mixed use applied for.”

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A statutory declaration by Ms Wood from 2006 referred to dance classes, tuition and pupils, but no reference was made to it being used as a nightclub.

Yet the Havana application included statutory declarations in support of its bid, signed by various people asserting it had been used for the last 20 years on Friday and Saturday nights as a nightclub, with club nights including Salsa and “Funkalicious Fridays”.

A representative of the Methodist church at Marlborough Road, St Albans, warned in a submission on the scheme that if approved, it could create “new noise problems” for those living on that street.

A New Kent Road resident objected to the Havana bid, saying that she had become increasingly concerned about the levels of noise and disturbance from the club.

The woman said: “The main problems occur when the building is used for a nightclub.

“Havana use their back car park which is at the top of New Kent Road for a smoking area and until the early morning (usually 1.30am) we are disturbed.

“This noise includes the loud music from the building as they continuously open and close the back door and quite large numbers of people talking loudly, shouting and singing.

“We and other residents along the street have complained several times to Havana.

“With a change of licence to these premises the level of disturbance is going to increase to local residents.”

But her comments were disputed by Ms Wood in her appeal to Mr Pickles.

She said that any investigations into allegations about noise levels “have resulted in no action being taken”.

She has lodged an appeal against the council’s refusal of an application for certificate of lawfulness (existing), use of premises as Class D2 (assembly and leisure) and Sui Generis (nightclub) for over 10 years.