Agenda item

Application for a Premises Licence for Lidl at 295-297 Stansted Road, Bishop’s Stortford, Herts CM23 2BT (22/0294/PL)


The Chairman summarised the procedure for Sub-Committee hearing. All those present were introduced or introduced themselves.


The Senior Licensing and Enforcement Officer presented his report covering an application for a new premises licence under Section 17 of the Licensing Act 2003. The Sub-Committee was advised that on 14 March 2022, Lidl Great Britain Limited submitted an application for a new premises licence at 295 – 297 Stansted Road, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, CM23 2BT. The application sought permission for the supply of alcohol for consumption off of the premises, Monday - Sunday 07:00 – 23:00.


Members were advised that the applicant had proposed a number of steps which they intended to take to promote the four licensing objectives. These included the training of staff and the operation of a Challenge 25 policy.


Members were further advised that there had been seven valid representations received from local residents acting as interested parties, which could be seen at Appendix B of the report. The representations from residents raised concerns of noise, safety from traffic and anti-social behaviour and engaged the public safety, prevention of public nuisance and prevention of crime and disorder licensing objectives. There had been no representations received from the Authorities.


The Senior Licensing and Enforcement Officer drew Members’ attention to an error at paragraph 3.9 in the report, and confirmed that the site of the proposed premises was not a field, that it was instead currently being utilised by a car manufacturer as a service garage. 


Members were advised that if they believed that the application would not promote the four licencing objectives, they should take appropriate and proportionate action to address these concerns. The Sub-Committee could attach conditions, limit the hours or restrict licensable activities. The application should only be refused as a last resort and the Members’ decision should be evidence based, justified, appropriate and proportionate.  


The applicant’s legal representative briefly introduced the application. She referred to the representations received from residents, shown at pages 73 – 79 of the report, and said that they contained general, unsubstantiated comments which were not based on evidence. She advised that the application included a request to trade alcohol on Sundays between 07:00 – 23:00, but clarified that this request had been made only in anticipation of any possible future relaxation in Sunday trading hours. 


The applicant’s legal representative said that Lidl had 860 stores in the UK, and was therefore experienced at operating units in different locations, including those in towns and on retail parks. She said that Lidl was aware of its responsibilities and provided extensive training to staff to prevent the sale of alcohol to persons under the age of 18, to those who are intoxicated, and to recognise the signs of proxy purchases. She said that all staff were required to complete this training prior to working on the shop floor, and to complete refresher training at least every six months, with records kept of this training.


She continued by saying that Lidl also employed external test purchasers to check the robustness of its Challenge 25 policy, and that full store coverage CCTV was used alongside the staff monitoring of high ‘risk’ areas. She said that Lidl was an active participant in joint working and community projects, giving examples with the Police and bespoke initiatives. 


The Chairman thanked the applicant’s legal representative for her comprehensive overview of the application.


Councillor Page asked for detail on the stores proposed security measures. In particular the measures intended to combat any possible gathering in the car park area during the evenings. He also asked for clarification on when the store would receive its deliveries.  


The applicant’s legal representative said that no such problems were anticipated at the location. She said that all aspects of store security are continuously monitored, with store management proactive in encouraging liaison with local residents. The use of barriers and boulders (whichever was location appropriate) could be used to stop unwanted access to the car park area. With regards to store deliveries, the applicant’s representative said that this was an issue for planning. She added that deliveries would be made to the store even without an alcohol licence.


Councillor Bolton said that the site visit which had been carried out by the Members of the Sub-Committee had been very helpful, and asked for further clarification on the footprint of the proposed store, its parking and CCTV. 


The Head of Property for Lidl said that Lidl were re-profiling the whole of the site, which would stretch from the highway to the railway and create a 24,000 sqft retail unit with 137 parking spaces. He said that as owners of the site the whole area would be configured to be easier to access, secure and maintain. With regards to CCTV, this would be dependent on the location and any data protection considerations.


The applicant’s legal representative said that the police had made no objections to the application, and that the representations made by local residents were made without evidence. She said that the proposed store was in a low crime area, and therefore was not likely to attract any anti-social issues. She finished by saying that Lidl was an experienced company, with robust training and procedures in place, and that members could be confident in granting the application.       


At the conclusion of the closing submission, the Sub-Committee, the Litigation and Advisory Lawyer and the Democratic Services Officers retired to a separate room to allow Members to consider the evidence.


Following this, Members and Officers returned and the Chairman announced that the Sub-Committee had listened to the comments of the Senior Licencing and Enforcement Officer and the applicant. The Sub Committee had considered the representations that had been received and had decided to grant the application.


There did not appear to be any substantial evidence to support the concerns that had been raised and the Sub-Committee was reassured by the applicant that any concerns raised with them would be addressed in the future. In coming to this decision believed that the conditions attached to the licence would be sufficient to promote and not undermine the four licencing objectives.


RESOLVED – that the application for a New Premises Licence for Lidl Great Britain Limited at 295 -297 Stansted Road, Bishop’s Stortford, Herts, CM23 2BT be granted, with the supply of alcohol (for consumption off of the premises) and opening hours Monday to Sunday 07:00 – 23:00.


Reasons for Decision


1.           The Licencing Sub Committee considered all of the evidence before it including the written representations made by the interested parties. Members had regard to the Council’s Statement of Licencing Policy, the Licencing Act 2003 and the guidance promulgated pursuant to Section 182 of that Act.


2.           The Licencing Sub Committee is required to adopt a presumption in favour of granting a licence unless there is clear evidence upon which to base a refusal or modification. There was insufficient evidence before the Sub Committee to rebut that presumption.


3.           In reaching this decision Members had regard to the objections received and noted that whilst there is a perception of public safety and public nuisance at the premises, the concerns were speculative which could not directly attributed to these premises and were therefore outside of the scope of the Sub Committee to consider.


4.           Members were assured by the Applicant that concerns raised to them by local residents will be addressed in the future. 


Those present were advised that the decision would be issued in writing within five working days and there was the right of appeal within 21 days to the magistrate’s court.

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