St Albans’ Havana Club licensing appeal dismissed

Havana Club

Havana Club - Credit: Archant

THE owner of a popular city centre nightspot has been unsuccessful in her challenge to have the use of the venue legally confirmed.

Christine Wood, who owns Havana in Victoria Street, was hoping to have a decision made by St Albans district council overturned after her application to verify the site is being used for dance classes, associated activities and a nightclub was refused.

But this week, an inspector on behalf of the Secretary of State Eric Pickles has upheld the council’s ruling on the basis she was not satisfied Havana has been operating as a nightclub for at least the stipulated ten-year period.

While Ms Wood maintained for more than 10 years her business had been used for various events including club nights involving live and pre-recorded dance music, inspector Sara Morgan noted in her report until 2005 alcohol could not be sold on the premises after 11pm.

She said this meant it could not be called a nightclub, and also made reference to a statutory declaration hearing in 2006 when the owner had claimed she ran a dance club and made no mention of it being a nightclub.

The report read: “Ms Wood’s statement in March 2006 in support of her application to extend the hours of her premises licence describes the nature of her business as “all kinds of dance, the teaching and the practice of it”.

“She described typical evenings as starting with classes, followed by a social night, the mainstay of the business being latin dance, chiefly salsa.”

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Giving evidence to the Inquiry Ms Wood also defended her application for a certificate of lawful use of development by commenting she had always held club nights on Fridays and Saturdays, which would go on until around 2am in the morning.

In addition, she said her business would not have been viable if she had only been offering dance classes.

But Ms Morgan summarised: “I conclude that the council’s refusal to grant a certificate of lawful use or development in respect of use of the appeal site for dance classes with associated activities/club nights/comedy nights/live music/charity events and as a nightclub was well-founded and that the appeal should fail.”