New off-licence to open in Sunderland city centre business, despite dozens of objections
A new city centre business has won a licence to sell alcohol despite more than 40 objections.
Last year, Varkey’s Shoppings lodged a bid for a shop space at Phoenix House, Union Street, next to Subway.
As part of the planned city centre move, a premises licence bid was submitted to Sunderland City Council to sell alcohol as early as 6am.
During consultation, Northumbria Police requested major changes to the bid, which were accepted by the applicant Jinni Varkey.
On January 17, the council’s Licensing Sub-Committee gave the final go ahead to alcohol hours for the new business.
This includes restricting sales between 9am-9pm, Monday to Saturday and 9am-8pm on Sunday.
However, a petition signed by business owners and shoppers objected to the plans claiming a new shop would harm existing trade in the area.
Other concerns included anti-social behaviour, littering and pressure on police and ambulance services.
Council solicitor, Jim Wotherspoon, speaking at Sunderland Civic Centre, said fears about “commercial damage caused by competition” were not relevant to the licence.
“The petition and its 42 signatories, in the report I have, there’s only a few of them that identify whether they’re residents or business users,” he said.
“It’s not clear in respect of that and I think it’s a badly-worded petition that really in my opinion, is not a relevant consideration for the committee,” he said.
The shop space also fell under the council’s ‘cumulative impact policy’ which covers areas that are vulnerable to crime caused by excessive drinking.
But Mr Wotherspoon said there were no objections put forward in relation to the policy itself.
He added police data for the area, revealed last year at a licensing hearing, indicated anti-social behaviour and crime in the area had dropped.
Following discussion, councillors said they were satisfied that the applicant would take steps to reduce crime and disorder.
This includes regular links with the police, new CCTV, work to reduce noise and a car parking advice notice being displayed.
On request, the applicant also agreed to use a shutter to restrict alcohol sales and provide signs to remind customers of alcohol hours.
In her verdict, committee chairman, Coun Anne Lawson, said councillors were happy to grant the application, subject to these conditions.
“I’m sure you will appreciate that councillors and members of the public are very concerned about the sale of alcohol in certain areas within the city and the anti-social behaviour that is sometimes associated with that,” she added.
The business is set to open in April/May this year.
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service