Chester’s only SEV has been refused a licence because it is no longer suitable in the locality, which has apparently become more residential than 12 months ago. There were 8 objections and a representation from local business operators, but an equal number of letters of support and a petition in favour of renewal.
“Chester’s only lapdancing club is facing an uncertain future after failing to get its licence renewed.
The decision concerning the Platinum Lounge on Bridge Street Row was made at a Cheshire West and Chester Council licensing committee hearing held at HQ today (Tuesday, September 17).
Following the announcement, a CWaC spokesman said: “We have rejected the application for a renewal of the licence on the grounds the area has become far more residential than it was when the licence was first issued.
“Regulations consider such premises to be acceptable only within largely commercial areas.
“But the area in question has seen a lot of commercial properties being turned into homes and consequently it is now more residential.”
The spokesman explained such premises are allowed to hold lapdancing sessions 11 times in the course of a 12 month period as long as those occasions are not consecutive.
“Therefore, the Platinum Lounge will no longer be able to operate in the way it has been doing up to now,” the spokesman added.
The Platinum Lounge has yet to comment on the decision. If the club decides to appeal, this will have to be done via a judicial review.
One of the main voices of opposition to the renewal was Labour Cllr Samantha Dixon.
In a statement to the committee, she said: “This area is becoming increasingly residential and residents and others have already described to me problems relating to these premises which damage the character of the area.
“Furthermore, I believe it is inappropriate for a sex entertainment venue to be located on the city’s historic Rows which are an important heritage asset for Chester.”
However, not all residents were opposed to the lapdancing venue being allowed to renew its licence.
Mark Lane of Watergate Street wrote in support of the club: “I have to say this venue has zero negative impact on the street.
“If Chester is to attract business people and tourism, it must have a diverse offering.”
As part of their application for renewal, the Platinum Lounge owners pointed out it has been operating since November 2005 and gives regular employment to about 40 people.
The entertainment being applied for was listed as “lap dancing, pole dancing, full nudity”.
The Platinum Lounge was set up in 2005 on Bridge Street Row in the premises previously occupied by the On The Air broadcasting museum.
At the time of the opening, manager Nigel Woodhouse said: “We are trying to create something stylish and classy that the people of Chester can be proud of.”
Controversy first surrounded the club about a year later when it successfully applied to allow full nudity, something which was criticised by the Bishop of Chester the Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster who said: “I dislike all activities which either demean and exploit other human beings, or which separate human sexual attraction from its proper basis in responsible human relationships.”
But opponents of the venue have been increasingly making their voices heard and tried to block the renewal of the club’s licence in April 2012.
On that occasion, the objectors were unsuccessful, prompting Debbie Lomas, co-owner of the Rainforest shop on Watergate Row, to criticise the council.
She said at the time: “They chose to grant a licence to supply the growing demand for people who want sexual stimulation over the wishes of the majority of the residents and businesses. This undermines their stated aims in the One City Plan.”