‘Damning’ report scuppers plans to convert former Leamington printing shop into a bar

The plan for 28 Clemens Street had prompted 13 letters of support but there was opposition from the owner of one of the neighbouring businesses concerned about the noise being generated from a new town centre bar in the evenings

A businessman’s hopes of turning a former Leamington printing shop into a bar have been scuppered by a ‘damning’ environmental health report which prompted councillors to reject the change of use application.

The plan for 28 Clemens Street had prompted 13 letters of support but there was opposition from the owner of one of the neighbouring businesses concerned about the noise being generated from a new town centre bar in the evenings.

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A report considered at the latest planning committee of Warwick District Council [May 4] explained that a flat above the premises was expected to be renovated and let and that the site was in the Royal Leamington Spa Conservation Area and on one of the main routes into the town centre.

The vacant former Classic Printers shop in Clemens Street, Leamington. Credit: Google Maps.

Those supporting the application suggested it would add variety to the Old Town part of Leamington by occupying a currently vacant unit and therefore regenerate the street. They added that South Leamington lacked bars for the community and that small and family-run businesses should be supported.

And while the report explained that a change of use would go against the local plan which aimed to safeguard retail spaces, officers said a drinking establishment would ensure that the vitality of the town centre was maintained and therefore the proposal was acceptable.

However, a plan for the bar to stay open until 1am was not supported by the council’s environmental health officer (EHO) who expressed strong concerns.

The report added: “Their concerns stem from the fact that drinking establishments can present a number of noise issues including raised voices from customers arriving and leaving at unsociable hours, general conversation, amplified music from inside of the premises, customers congregating in external yard areas and pavements to smoke, as well as noise from refrigeration and air-cooling plant. The serving of alcohol also increases the potential for confrontations, arguments, and other antisocial behaviour in the vicinity of the premises.

“The Noise Impact Report submitted by the applicant has been reviewed and the EHO has confirmed that the mitigation measures proposed are not sufficient to fully alleviate their concerns in relation to noise and disturbance. The sound insulation proposed to the separating wall and ceiling structures is not adequate for a commercial use located directly below a residential dwelling.”

Members of the planning committee voted unanimously to refuse the change of use with chair Cllr Alan Boad (Lib Dem, Leamington Lillington) explaining: “From the EHO it is the most damning report I’ve seen for an awfully long time. They are not mincing their words, they are saying this is going to be a problem.”

The applicant, Gurbinder Mudan, had applied for opening hours between 6pm and 1am on seven days a week and said there will be no live entertainment and that music would be kept at a low level.

Speaking before the meeting, he said that the bar would help fill an empty unit, adding: ”[The bar ] will bring variety much needed to Old Town and regenerate the street to attract persons of all ages without prejudice to visit.”