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Cambridge restaurant and bar refused alcohol licence over noise concerns





A new restaurant and bar in Cambridge has been refused a licence to sell alcohol after councillors claimed neighbours noise concerns appeared to have been “disregarded”.

The Sunset Lounge in Cherry Hinton Road wanted to sell alcohol from 11am to 10pm all week.

Sunset Lounge, Cambridge
Sunset Lounge, Cambridge

It promotes itself as a Mediterranean restaurant offering a shisha lounge and “authentic bar experience”.

But neighbours objected to the application, arguing the area was not suitable for the type of late-night drinking and shisha lounge proposed.

Some said they were already experiencing an increase in noise since it replaced the previous takeaway restaurant.

At a meeting of Cambridge City Council’s licensing sub-committee on Monday (5 February ), councillors heard the business was currently subject to a planning enforcement notice.

Councillors were told that the extension at the back of the restaurant did not have planning permission, and the business did not have planning approval to run a shisha lounge either.

Counsel Graham Goodwill, representing the applicant Valmir Dautaj, said the extension had been built following “wrongful information” given by a planning officer.

He said Mr Dautaj had been told he could build an extension as long as it was no higher than two-and-a-half metres, but that is the case for a domestic property and not a business.

He added that an appeal had been submitted against this enforcement notice.

Mr Goodwill told councillors he wanted to propose amendments to the licence application to “take the sting out of some of the objections”.

He said Mr Dautaj was proposing not to run a shisha lounge and would “mothball” the extension until the outcome of the appeal was known.

That meant the licence sought would cover the main restaurant building and the seating area at the front.

He asked to extend the licence application to include Sunday, telling councillors that a previous agent representing Mr Dautaj had made an “error” in only requesting a licence from Monday to Saturday.

Mr Goodwill said: “Mr Dautaj has spent in the region of £160,000 in carrying out the renovations that you see - quite a bit of it was spent on the extension out the back.

“The plan is for this to be a mid-range restaurant. I have seen the menus, starters are approaching £10, main course £30 or thereabouts, so the clientele he is seeking are good quality customers.

“This is not another Indian restaurant, Chinese restaurant, or takeaway burger type food. This is top quality food.

“During the past two months the premises have been opened on a number occasions under temporary event notice licences.

“On behalf of Mr Dautaj, we say that this restaurant adds a terrific amenity to the community, the opportunity for residents from nearby streets to attend and have a nice meal.”

Cllr Anna Smith (Lab, Coleridge), one of the ward councillors, said she was hearing reports about noise issues and asked for assurances.

Mr Goodwill said the restaurant was not now seeking a licence to cover the extension, which he said he understood to be the main cause of noise concerns.

But Cllr Smith said people living in the flats above had raised complaints about “significant noise levels” coming up through the floor, which were worse than when a takeaway was on site.

Mr Goodwill said the kitchen had been in use for more than 30 years and in 1994 it was found that there was no need for any additional noise restrictions.

He added that if there was any “unacceptable noise”, people could raise the issues with the city council, which could test if there is a statutory noise nuisance.

Cllr Smith “remained unconvinced about what might be done to improve the noise nuisance”.

After considering the application in private, the sub-committee refused the application as councillors did not think residents’ concerns had been “adequately addressed”, with no mitigation or intended alterations” to address concerns.

The decision notice said: “Up until now, the Sunset Lounge has been presented up as a shisha bar, with amplified music and dancing in the promotional material.

“The sudden change in the narrative to a quiet family restaurant raises concerns going forward as to the actual use of the venue.

“No positive responses were provided to residents [and] councillors’ noise concerns.

“Residents’ objections appeared to be disregarded and no goodwill was shown to address their concerns.

“Neither the application nor the representations provided any adequate measures to reduce noise nuisance.

“Significant use of the [temporary event notices] suggests the intended use of the venue as a bar as opposed to a family restaurant.”

The council’s decision can be appealed by the applicant within 21 days of the decision.



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