Licence for new Eastbourne late night bar rejected

Eastbourne councillors have turned down a bid to open a new late night bar in the town centre. 

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 5:25 pm
Three Monkeys
Three Monkeys

On Tuesday (December 17), a panel of Eastbourne Borough councillors turned down an application seeking a late night alcohol licence for a new bar in Langney Road, known as the Three Monkeys Bar and Kitchen.

The application had been opposed by Sussex Police due to concerns around its position within the cumulative impact area – a part of the town where licensing applications consider the effects of all premises in combination, rather than a single applicant’s business alone.

Speaking at the hearing, Inspector Rob Lovell told councillors that Sussex Police had concerns about the potential for crime and disorder from additional late night drinking in the area.

He said: “From February 2018 to January 2019 30 per cent of all recorded crime in Eastbourne occured in Devonshire ward, which is the town centre. 

“When specifically looking at ABH offences, such as assault where actual bodily harm has been caused, analysis showed that these were strongly linked to the night-time economy. 

“The highest concentration of these offences was in the Langney Road area, specifically in the vicinity of the Cameo nightclub. This premises, as you know, is right next door.

“There are already a number of late night venues in the immediate area and we are content that another one, right next door to a large nightclub, will cause inevitably have a cumulative impact.”

Inspector Lovell also said the application sought conditions for a premises, which was “more akin to a nightclub” than other uses.

Concerns had also been raised by the council’s own environmental health team, over fears noise from the bar would cause a public nuisance.

Both Sussex Police and the environmental health team called for a series of additional conditions to be put in place should the application be approved.

While the bar has yet to open its doors, it had previously been granted a licence (under the name of Morey’s in 2017) to serve alcohol and late night refreshments until 11.30pm each night. These conditions are in line with a restaurant business, Inspector Lovell said.

In his bid the applicant, DJ and events company owner Dene Sonnessa, was seeking to vary this original licence, allowing the bar to serve alcohol and food until 2.30am and play amplified music until 3am. 

He was also seeking permission for a variety of other licensed activities, including film and dance performances.

The panel, however, appeared to feel there was little detail about how Mr Sonnessa intended to run these activities in practice.

Cllr Candy Vaughan, the panel’s chairman, said: “What kind of dancers? Are they exotic dancers? Are they going to be like Pan’s People? Are they going to be a dance troupe or group?

“There is nothing specific in here. You just seem to have ticked boxes to see whether you would get anything back without any explanation of what it is you actually want to do.

“That is what we are here to actually find out. It is very vague as to what you actually do.” 

But Mr Sonnessa said he hoped the changes he had applied for would give him the flexibility to try different things

He said: “I’ve got a background as a DJ and a promoter and I’ve grown up DJing pubs and clubs around Brighton.

“I’ve got a vast network of people in the entertainment side of things [and] it is a natural progression for myself now to run a bar.  I’m also from the background of being a qualified chef as well. 

“On the questions specifically regarding the dancers, it is more a case of having live music and bands and having the option for dancers to perform alongside the live entertainment. It is me trying to be fluid, I think.”

Mr Sonnessa also said he intended to run the premises as a restaurant during the day and as a bar from 9pm until closing time. 

He said he would consent to all of the conditions requested by Sussex Police in their representation. These conditions included the installation of CCTV, staff training on alcohol sales and hiring SIA-registered door staff. 

But Mr Sonnessa also said he was uncomfortable with some conditions requested by the council’s environmental health team, saying he would like a ‘less restrictive wording’ which ‘achieved the same outcome’. He did not offer an alternative wording for the conditions, however. 

After hearing from all parties, the panel retired for around 30 minutes to consider their decision. Councillors concluded they would not grant the licence variation applied for. 

The previous licence for alcohol sales at the bar remains in effect, but requires a further application to change its name and designated premises supervisor before it can open for business. Once a valid application is received it is an immediate change, however.