War of words wages on over St Albans nightspot

PUBLISHED: 06:00 22 December 2014

Havana Club

Havana Club

Archant

Solicitors acting on behalf of a St Albans nightspot have taken exception to objections against their client's push for the go-ahead to host a range of activities.

Havana, which operates at the site of a former chapel in Victoria Street, has incurred the wrath of some neighbouring residents who have warned of a potential increase in anti-social behaviour and noise pollution.

The venue is seeking retrospective permission for a material change of use and comes a year after a planning inspector dismissed an appeal to have Havana’s use legally confirmed.

Its latest bid includes use as a nightclub, hosting recorded and live music, dancing, dance classes, private event hire, comedy acts and viewing of major sporting events.

St Albans Civic Society has protested against the scheme, saying Havana “appears to have a chameleon approach to the planning/licensing process over the years.

“Is it a dance club or a nightclub?”

The watchdog group warned that with more offices being converted to houses because of changes to planning laws, “the city centre is becoming more and more residential in nature” and this would create “conflict”.

And an objection on behalf of neighbouring Trident House said: “We are currently trying to let space at our building which is unfortunately perfectly located for use as a toilet by late night revellers as well as a dumping ground for cigarette butts and rubbish.

“All of this affects its marketability and is to the detriment of our ongoing investment in the St Albans business community.”

A neighbouring resident objected as they could hear “drunken shouts and cheering [which] causes disturbance to local residents.”

However the raft of objections has attracted a strongly worded rebuttal from Attwaters Jameson Hill, acting on behalf of Havana.

In a letter to St Albans district council the solicitors said: “It is an extremely well run establishment. The police have never had to enter the premises during the entire existence of Havana.

“The pavement outside is swept of all rubbish after closing. There have been no breaches of the terms and conditions of the licences.”

In response to the Civic Society’s comments, Attwaters said that conversion of empty offices to homes “cannot possibly be an argument for displacing legitimate town centre uses”.

They added: “Christine Wood, the applicant, has run these premises as her livelihood for well over 20 years. She has done so in a responsible fashion.”

The scheme will be decided by councillors at a planning committee.

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