Staff at The Vestry say they are ‘not going down without a fight’ as they face pressure to close earlier.
The popular Southgate bar is caught in the jaws of a technicality that could force it to close at midnight at weekends, instead of 2.30am.
Landlord Jaspar Group, which wants to develop the road, said it does not want The Vestry to close but that it must abide by planning rules.
The Vestry’s licence holder, Nick Marshall said: “We have got a bit of a battle on.
“Jaspar Group is intending to build flats on our party wall. They have reminded the council there is a planning restriction on our premises.”
There is indeed a planning restricton on The Vestry that it must close by 12am. However, in 2016 The Vestry was given licensing consent to open until 2.30am.
The issue is that a planning application needed to be submitted to bring the original restriction in line with the licensing decision.
Chichester District Council said this has not happened.
Has crime at The Vestry gone up?
A Freedom of Information request to Sussex Police revealed that instances of assault trebled in 2017 (15 from five in 2016).
Additionally reports of drug offences rose from four in 2016 to 20 last year.
Nick Marshal, licence holder for The Vestry, said: “Actually it is because we are becoming busier.
“It is also because we have got a fantastic security team working outside and we are really looking out and checking everyone who does not look right.”
The bar has undergone refurbishment, adding new toilets and a VIP area near the dancefloor.
Bar manager Charlie Rose said: “We are very much a pub, we just have the capacity to have a little boogie as well.”
Mr Marshall added: “Southgate has become so vibrant at night that it is good for The Vestry to be staying open at night.
“We are really proud doing what we are doing.
“We work really hard along with the council officers and all of us in Southgate to create a really safe nightlife in Southgate and to have that taken away for no reason is appalling.
“Please get behind this. Get a petition going and write to the council.
“We are not going down without a fight.”
What does the developer/landlord say?
Developer Jaspar Group said: “Jaspar’s proposals seek to regenerate an empty building providing significant investment into the city.
“The scheme would provide nine much-needed residential units, which would increase footfall for local shops and amenities.
“It has become apparent The Vestry are currently operating outside of their planning consent which only permits the venue to open until 12 midnight.
“Planning and licensing operate independently – it is not possible for a planning condition to be altered by subsequent licensing consent.
“Jaspar is not seeking to have The Vestry closed.
“Jaspar wants to see the venue continue to contribute to the locality. However, it must operate lawfully and in line with the planning conditions placed on it.”
Jaspar Group has served a 146 notice under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1925 on the middle-man landlord who leases the building from them and in turn leases it to The Vestry.
The spokesman added: “We expect these breaches to be remedied as soon as reasonably possible. Failure to remedy the breaches will result in forfeiture of all leases at the property.”
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