Another refusal (no. 25): ST lounge, Wilmslow

The ST Lounge in Wilmslow was licensed in the face of opposition last year, but has had its renewal refused on the grounds that the locality is inappropriate (even though it was considered appropriate 12 months ago). There were 394 objections, by far the largest number ever received for an SEV licence application. The full minuted justification is as follows:

“The relevant locality included a quality shopping and commercial area, including the pedestrianised Grove Street which was used by a wide range of people including children and young people, families and older people as well as a significant number of residential properties in streets adjacent to Grove Street. The relevant locality also included St Teresa’s Catholic Church and Wilmslow Prep School

Within the vicinity there were further sensitive premises, which included residential premises, Wilmslow High School, The Leisure Centre, St Bartholomew’s Church, Wilmslow Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church

The change that had taken place during the last twelve months was that ST Lounge was more prominent due to the adverse publicity it had received and as a result people had changed their attitudes and habits and were now tending to avoid walking past it, particularly in the evening when they felt uncomfortable. Evidence was also accepted that they felt uncomfortable in the daytime. The public concern had become more widespread during the last 12 months

An example of the community concern was the objection from Wilmslow Town Council which unanimously made a recommendation to Cheshire East Council that the appropriate number of sexual entertainment venues in this locality should be nil, although Cheshire East Council had not given consideration to such a restriction.

The objections received from a 13 year old and the mother of a 15 year old showed that concerns arose from a wide age range in the community.

The matters which added to the raised awareness and which raised community concern included the following:

o An A-Board with an ambiguous image on it, left outside when the premises are closed

o “House rules” flyers found on the pavement outside

o The website linked to the club

o The promotion of ST Lounge outside Wilmslow conflicts with the promotion of Wilmslow as a quality shopping destination

Many of the sensitive premises in the vicinity held evening activities and people, including young people, who lived in Grove Avenue and in nearby roads had to walk through the pedestrianised Grove Street and past ST Lounge to attend any activity at the Leisure Centre or either St Teresa’s or St Bartholomew’s Churches. The alternatives were a much longer walking route or a car journey.”

This is the first time that the raised awareness of a club has been cited as a grounds why a locality has become inappropriate. It potentially raises interesting questions about publicity (e.g. does a website designed to raise awareness of a club for those seeking adult entertainment create more awareness of a club among the wider population?)

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