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Licence granted for new Taco Bell despite concerns

A new Taco Bell is coming to Cambridge and will open until the early hours of the morning – but not as late as the company had wanted.

10 Market Square in Cambridge where the Taco Bell is set to open (59892539)
10 Market Square in Cambridge where the Taco Bell is set to open (59892539)

Plans had been put forward for the takeaway chain to remain open until 4am, but concerns were raised by neighbours about the noise and disruption this could cause.

The restaurant is due to open its first branch in the city in Market Street in the shop formerly occupied by Kingdom of Sweets, which has moved to Lion Yard.

At a meeting of Cambridge City Council’s licensing sub committee earlier today (Monday, October 10), the applicant’s legal representative Christopher Rees-Gay said the new restaurant would not have a negative impact on the area.

He explained that the company was used to operating in “challenging areas” and had “extensive experience” of running fast food restaurants in city centres.

Mr Rees-Gay said 50 new jobs would be created and that the company had invested just short of £2.5million in the building’s refurbishment.

He said the late night hours requested would allow people who work nights to benefit from the takeaway being open and explained that they had reached out to all of the people who had objected to the proposals.

The owners of Mash Nightclub had initially objected to the plans, but Mr Rees-Gay explained that, following discussions, it had been agreeed that Taco Bell would stop people sitting outside from 10pm instead of 11pm. The nightclub owners then withdrew their objection.

He also said that they had offered to share the manager’s mobile number to other objectors so they would have a direct point of contact if there were any issues.

Mr Rees-Gay highlighted the ‘extensive conditions’ that had been agreed to by the company to help manage behaviour and the restaurant’s impact on the area, and pointed out that police and environmental health had not raised any objections. He stressed that no negative evidence had been given, and said the restaurant would not have a negative impact on the area.

Two objectors, who run and live above The Town and Gown, a pub and theatre in Market Passage, spoke at the meeting to raise their concerns.

One of the objectors, Karl Steele, said: “There has been a lot of work done on Market Passage to make it more appealing and more attractive than it has in the past. There has been festoon lighting put in to make sure lighting is good and we work really hard to make sure that passage is not abused late at night.

“I think the coupling of a 4am kick out from a nightclub mixed with a late night food offering, that is predominantly takeaway, will cause a major bottleneck in Market Passage, which will bring down the standards that we are achieving there.

“Living above The Town and Gown, the sounds just come straight up Market Passage and straight into our accommodation.

“It is difficult enough to disperse 500 people from a nightclub, throw in a takeaway offering for food, it means that people are going to be sat on the floor in Market Passage late at night and I think that is a shame if that could happen.

“It is good for our business to have a business at the end of Market Passage, it makes it more attractive for footfall and for people to see that we are operating at the end that, but for me personally as a resident, the late night food offering is what is problematic with the nightclub being so close.”

After hearing from the different sides, the sub committee left the meeting to discuss and consider the application in private.

Returning to the meeting, Cllr Sam Carling (Lab, West Chesterton) said they had agreed to grant the licence application, but only opening until 2am instead of the requested 4am.

Cllr Carling said: “No matter how conscientious the operator and vigorous the conditions, any noise and public order plan requires customer cooperation, and customers who have been drinking all night may not be cooperative.

“The premise is situated in a cumulative impact zone in which there is significant provision of late night alcohol, which therefore exacerbates the risk of the above.

“Closure at 4am, a similar time of nearby venues, would worsen the existing noise and antisocial behaviour caused by congestion with Market Passage and Market Street at night.

“These changes to the application are necessary for the promotion of the licensing objectives.”

The city council’s legal advisor reminded those at the meeting that they had the right to appeal the decision to the magistrates’ court within 21 days of the decision.

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