Rick Stein's Marlborough restaurant: longer opening hours given the nod by town councillors
Rick Stein Restaurants have won approval from Marlborough town council's planning committee to extend the opening hours they originally applied for at their new High Street restaurant. The final decision will be taken by Wiltshire Council.
The issue arose because the liquor licence granted by Wiltshire Council (which the town council did not object to) was for a period three-and-a-half hours longer on Mondays-Fridays than the opening times agreed when planning consent was granted for the conversion of LLoran House into a restaurant. The difference on Saturdays was two-and-a-half hours longer and three hours longer on Sundays.
The Rick Stein company wanted opening times for the restaurant to be at 9.00am seven days a week - with closing on Monday-Saturday at half-past midnight and at midnight on Sundays.
There was talk of 'Trojan horses' and that the anomaly between the two Wiltshire Council decisions was being 'exploited' by the restaurant company. In this application the agents for Rick Stein Restaurants said that the longer hours were "required for the business to prosper".
Taking account of the objections of nearby residents, Councillor Nick Fogg had originally said he would 'call in' the planning application so it would get full debate at the Wiltshire Council planning committee. He changed his mind when planning officers told him the objections were covered by the conditions imposed on the developers. And the residents had accepted this.
The sudden request for extended hours brought a letter of objection from some of the residents within Old Lion Court - just behind Lloran House. It spoke of their 'shock' at the request, which they said was 'really unfair and unacceptable'.
They said the earlier opening hours would mean staff arriving even earlier. And it gave a picture of movements outside the building with staff preparing to open - and having cigarette breaks.
Councillor Fogg said he had 'a lot of sympathy' with the residents. He said the longer hours for the liquor licence had been explained as allowing for diners who wanted to take away wine they had bought.
This was, he said, simply a move to extend opening hours: "I am not happy with that at all....This is exploiting an anomaly between the licence and the planning consent." Councillor Peggy Dow said: "I would rather stay with the opening hours we had agreed previously - I cannot support this."
But Councillor Allen pointed out that having approved the liquor licence with one set of hours, it made no sense for the restaurant to be closed for some of those hours.
Councillor Alexander Kirk Wilson shared some of Councillor Fogg's 'puzzlement'. But he said: "I'm surprised there is a call in Marlborough for people to be dining after eleven o'clock."
The committee voted 'no objection' to application for extended opening hours for the restaurant, which is expected to open in the summer.