St Albans pub The Brickyard heads back to court over licensing restrictions

The Brickyard pub

The Brickyard pub - Credit: Archant

The owner of an inner city cocktail bar is heading back to court after councillors bowed to neighbouring residents’ wishes and cut the opening hours of the rear patio and garden area.

James Hanning, who runs The Brickyard in Verulam Road, said that as a result, his bar now “has the earliest closing garden area in St Albans city”.

Last month, the district council’s licensing sub-committee agreed to have the The Brickyard’s rear patio and garden close one hour earlier, with patrons to vacate the area by 10pm.

However James believes he has not been treated fairly compared to other night spots, explaining: “Everyone else has to either have their garden vacated by 11pm or midnight, or they don’t have a condition imposed at all – some pubs have no rules for their back gardens at all.”

On January 6 he lodged an appeal with the magistrates’ court challenging the imposition of the early garden closure, alleging that the decision “placed undue weight on the evidence of residents which was unsupported and uncorroborated by other evidence including that of the council’s own officers”.

In the grounds of appeal, James also alleges that the decision to shorten the garden opening time was “wrong and disproportionate”.

The Abbey Precincts Residents Association (APRA) applied for a review of the premises licence last year, prompted by members’ complaints about noise.

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The group claimed The Brickyard was not operating so as to promote the licensing objectives of public safety and prevention of public nuisance.

At a hearing last month, APRA said residents had made complaints about the bar “regularly throughout the summer”.

The group also claimed that James “does not control his customers when they are in his outside areas and therefore the level and type of noise they create is a nuisance to nearby residents on a regular basis”.

Evidence given by various officers, including environmental health, said there had been an “atypical number of complaints” about The Brickyard.

But James, supported by employees, members of the public and his noise expert, David Horrocks, refuted such allegations, saying residents were “over sensitive to noise and it is in fact normal noise from a licensed premises”.

Also: “residents are making complaints as a consequence of their disappointment with the planning decision [giving the go-ahead to] The Brickyard.”

In its notice of determination, the licensing sub-committee said: “there was only one resident complaint corroborated by someone other than a resident, and that was a telephone call from [nearby] licensed premises, Mokoko”.

It added: “However, we have found that there are complaints from residents that … establish they have experienced an unreasonable reduction in their amenity.

“Within the evidence there are complaints of noise nuisance caused by customers using the rear patio and garden area between [9pm and midnight].

“We are satisfied the premises has not complied with the licensing objective of prevention of public nuisance.”

The committee then attached four conditions to the licence, including having the rear patio vacated by 10pm. It is not known when James’s appeal will be heard at the magistrates’ court.

• An earlier appeal made by James against a decision of the district council to reject an application to vary the premises licence for The Brickyard has recently been dropped.