Agenda item

Application to vary a premise licence under the Licensing Act 2003 for The Zoo, 10 - 11 Market Buildings, Maidstone, Kent , ME14 1HP


The persons participating in the hearing were identified as follows:


Chairman – Councillor Garten


Committee Member – Councillor Joy


Committee Member – Councillor Naghi


Legal Advisor (in attendance virtually) – Mr Robin Harris


Democratic Services Officer – Miss Oliviya Parfitt


Applicant – Mr Christopher Dyer


For the applicant:


Mr Stephen Thomas – Solicitor, Miss Rebecca Davis – Assistant Manager and Mr Owen Ranger – Sound Management Consultant.


All parties confirmed that they were aware of the Sub-Committee hearing procedure and had each received a copy of the hearing procedure document.


The Sub-Committee agreed to proceed in the absence of the objectors. The Sub-Committee confirmed that they had read the papers and the additional documentation provided by the applicant’s representative.


The Chairman explained that:

· The Sub-Committee would allow all parties to put their case fully and make full submissions within a reasonable time frame.

· The procedure would take the form of a discussion led by the Sub-Committee and they would usually permit cross-examination conducted within a reasonable timeframe.

· Any person attending the hearing who behaved in a disruptive manner may be directed to leave the hearing by the Sub-Committee (including temporarily) after which, such person may submit to the Sub-Committee over the Instant messaging facilitating any information which that person would have been entitled to give orally had the person not been required to leave the meeting. If this is not possible, they may be permitted to speak at the Chair’s Invitation.

The legal representative introduced the report and stated that the application submitted by the applicant requested an additional two hours of live or recorded music from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. The application and subsequent notices had been advertised as required.


The objections received were outlined and included in Appendix 3 to the report. The Council’s Community Protection Team had withdrawn their objections due to the conditions agreed with the applicant, as outlined in the report, which addressed the concerns raised.


The applicant’s representative was invited to make their opening statement.  The existing premises licence and the variation application submitted were referenced. The applicant had met with the Community Protection Team following receipt of their objections, with four draft conditions agreed in response. The noise management plan was highlighted, with decibel meters having been placed in the premises outside area so that the noise level could be monitored consistently and recorded. These records could be made available to the licensing authority if requested. 


In preparation of the application’s submission, the applicant had applied for six Temporary Event Notices which were used from the 24 September 2021. The noise level was set in line with the government’s Covid-19 guidance and no comments or complaints had been received.


Mr Thomas referenced each individual objection received and stated that many of these had been submitted by individuals that were either employees, or personally connected to employees of a neighbouring premises called The Ashes and could have been commercially motivated and vexatious. Mr Thomas further stated that whilst some of the objections referred to the licensing objectives, there were no particular comments, explanations or incidents referenced that the applicant could address to provide reassurance of the actions being taken to ensure the promotion of the licensing objectives. The applicant would continue to work alongside neighbouring premises to promote these objectives.


The lack of objections from ‘responsible authorities’ such as Kent Police was reiterated in support of the applications appropriateness, alongside the numerous venues operating locally which remained open after 1 a.m.


In response to the comments made by the applicant’s representative, the Council’s legal representative stated that there was no specific requirement on a member of the public’s proximity to a premises when submitting an objection. The suitability of the objections received had already been considered as part of the administrative process in organising a Sub-Committee hearing and the relevant legislation was referenced. If the objections had been considered vexatious or invalid, then the objectors would have been informed.


In response, Mr Thomas reiterated their view that the objections were not suitable for consideration, but that they wished for the application to be considered on its suitability in relation to the licensing objectives. Due to technical difficulties, there had been a delay in the additional documentation being provided to the Sub-Committee.


The legal advisor stated that consideration of the application was suitable, however the meeting was adjourned between 10.51 a.m. to 11.01 a.m. as the Sub-Committee wished to further consider the statements made in relation to the objections received.


Following the meetings recommencement, Mr Thomas reiterated that they wished for the application to be considered on its suitability in relation to the licensing objectives.


In response to questions from the panel, Mr Thomas confirmed that the noise level agreed with the Council’s Community Protection Team had been ‘locked in’ to the sound management equipment. The sound engineer was the only person able and authorised to increase the volume rather than the premises staff, and only once a written request had been made. The Assistant Manager had lowered the music’s volume when necessary. The pedestrian walkway between the outside seating and the wall was two metres.


The applicant stated that the premises’ phone number was available on multiple platforms and was operational during the evening, which could be used by residents also. Before an event, leaflets could be distributed within the local town centre area to ensure residents were informed.


Mr Thomas was invited to make their closing statement on behalf of the applicant and reiterated the importance of the promotion of the licensing objectives and the absence of objections from responsible authorities.


The Chairman advised that the Sub-Committee would retire for deliberation with the legal advisor present. Due to technical difficulties, the Democratic Services Officer was in attendance for the deliberations to ensure proper communication between the Sub-Committee and the Legal Advisor could be achieved.


The meeting was adjourned between 11.30 a.m. to 12.15 p.m.


The Sub-Committee returned and the Chair stated that the application had been granted, subject to the inclusion of the conditions agreed between the applicant and the Council’s Community Safety Team. The reasons contributing to the decision were outlined.


It was confirmed that a written decision notice would be provided within five working days. Parties were reminded of the right of appeal to the Magistrates Court.


The Sub-Committee commented that during the meeting, there were instances of difficulty due to the virtual attendance of attendees and in-person attendance would be preferred in future.


The meeting closed at 12.17 p.m.


RESOLVED: That the Sub-Committee’s decision and reasons be provided within the Notice of Determination attached as an Appendix to the minutes.




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