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Controversial store plan on Chester Rows is approved

Published date: 03 September 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A CONTROVERSIAL application to open a Sainsbury’s on the Rows has been passed council licensing bosses.

The plan to open the shop, on Watergate Street, at the old Tessuti site, has met with resistance in the council-designated independent quarter with a number of shops, the city councillor, Cllr Sam Dixon, and the city centre manager, Peter Lewis, all voicing their opposition to the plans.

Yesterday, at the licensing committee hearing, Sainsbury’s application for an alcohol licence from 8am to 11pm was approved with their opening hours running from 7am to 11pm.

Objections centred around the store becoming another place where street drinkers would be able to get access to alcohol which could cause an increase in anti-social behaviour on the Rows.

Cllr Dixon told the committee the area was covered by a cumulative impact policy and should not have another place where cheap drink is available. She said: “The street drinkers are using the Rows as their own wet room. They take up a lot of police time and take up a lot of my time.

“A lot of the issues in the city centre relates to the consumption of alcohol throughout the day and night. We know what this environment is like, do you actually think bringing in an operator who can sell alcohol is going to improve it in any way?”

Diane Addison, of Watergate News, said the street drinkers cause an “intimidating” atmosphere in the city centre early in the morning when she goes to open up.

She said: “I open up on my own and they are intimidating. Another shop which is going to provide alcohol is not going to help the city.”

City centre manager, Peter Lewis, raised concerns about how the shop would manage on Race Days.

He said: “Watergate Street on Race Days is like a funnel. It is nothing like a football crowd or racegoers in other cities. I welcome Sainsbury’s to this city but the difficulty comes at this location. This is not a suitable location for alcohol sales.”

The solicitor for Sainsbury’s, Robert Botkai, told the committee they had worked hard to address the concerns of residents of the city centre.

He said that the Sainsbury’s would not be selling any single cans of larger or cider and would not be selling high strength beers or ciders either.

Mr Botkai also said that there would be at least one security guard in the shop during opening hours and they would post more on Race Days.

He said Sainsbury’s would take an active role in the pubwatch scheme and have a full plan for Race Days.

The police and environmental health had not objected to the application and Mr Botkai said that this showed that they both felt the opening of a Sainsbury’s would not have a detrimental effect and he said that statistics given to him by the police show that most incidents of alcohol related anti-social behaviour start after midnight.

The committee granted Sainsbury’s the alcohol license to trade from 7am to 11pm and sell alcohol between 8am and 11pm subject to a number of conditions which would be confirmed at a later date.

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