City Council recovers costs after drinks licence appeal is withdrawn

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Nottingham City Council has recovered almost £11,000 costs after Sainsbury’s dropped an appeal over the refusal of a licence to sell alcohol.

Sainsbury lodged an appeal to Nottingham Magistrates’ Court after the City Council’s Licensing Panel turned down the application for a licence to sell alcohol at a new Sainsbury’s Local supermarket planned for the former Habitat store on Long Row West.

The planned supermarket was in the City Council’s alcohol Saturation Zone which covers the Old Market Square and surrounding City Centre areas.  The Saturation Zone was introduced approximately 10 years ago alongside a Cumulative Impact policy which limits the sale of alcohol from premises including supermarkets and off-licences in the City Centre and surrounding areas to help reduce crime and disorder and public nuisance related to street drinking such as litter and urination in public places.

Sainsbury’s appeal was the first time a legal challenge had been launched against the Cumulative Impact policy.

Police had objected to the application because it would also fuel problems caused by ‘pre-loading’, when groups of students and visitors, often stag and hen parties, drank alcohol bought from supermarkets and off-licences before going into bars and clubs for more drink.

However, Sainsbury’s later withdrew the licensing appeal saying the contract for the acquisition of the planned Long Row site was no longer available. The City Council sought to recover the £10,578.90 costs of the preparation work for the appeal hearing from the supermarket chain.

Councillor Brian Grocock, Chair of Nottingham City Council’s Licensing Committee, said:  “I’m extremely pleased the City Council has recovered its legal costs from Sainsbury’s.

“Sainsbury’s and their legal team challenged the validity of the City’s Saturation Zone and Cumulative Impact policy very strongly.

“In normal circumstances it is presumed that an application for a new licence or the extension of an existing licence will be granted unless there is strong evidence why it should not be. In a Saturation Zone the opposite occurs, and it is presumed that new applications will be refused unless there are exceptional circumstances to show  that the premises will not contribute to the problems.

“Our legal team had done a lot of work to defend this policy which is in place to reduce the problems associated with excessive drinking and drunken behaviour.”

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