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South Cambridgeshire restaurant refused extended licence after neighbours’ complaint

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A village restaurant has been told it cannot extend the hours it sells alcohol to later in the evening after neighbours complained the “continuous” noise was “ruining” their lives.

An application to extend the hours LJ’s Sandwich Bar and Brasserie, in Gamlingay, could serve alcohol to 10.30pm in the evening was refused by South Cambridgeshire District Council last week (December 15).

LJ’s Sandwich Bar and Brasserie
LJ’s Sandwich Bar and Brasserie

At a meeting of the council’s licensing sub-committee, councillors heard from the opposing sides, as the restaurant owners argued they needed the extra hours to survive as a business.

The restaurant’s neighbours argued they could no longer “relax” in their own home.

One of the applicants, Jill Green, told the sub-committee that the past two years have been a “struggle” and that due to social distancing and the need for ventilation, the restaurant has had to limit the number of people they can seat at any one time.

She said: “A lot of people work outside the village so when they come and use us of an evening they can’t come round until 7pm. We’re then very restricted on how many people we can have and we found it very, very difficult to make a living from that.

“Also the people that do use us have all been coming to us and saying it’s such a shame because we’re always rushing - you’re always rushing us to serve us to get us out the door.

“Basically it’s been the pressure from the local village people that’s made us come and make this decision to actually see if we can get it extended to accommodate their needs.”

However, neighbour Simon Bathie said: “The problem has only arisen since they have started to use the courtyard in the evening and the restaurant in the evenings.

“We get the noise coming through both in the bedroom and the problems of it going on later and later.

“It’s continuous noise with music coming through and voices which get louder and louder as more people are eating and drinking and having a good time.

“It’s just depressing because it goes on all the time, this really gets to you.

“If this extension went further they would get worse, it would continue and it just has to stop.

“We can’t use our garden, we can’t sleep. We can’t sleep in the afternoon.

“The noise goes on during the day when the shop is shut. The noise comes into the street, it comes into the garden, you can’t relax.

“We’ve lived in this house for 20 years and we feel like moving.”

He added that he “felt sorry” for the applicants as he said he believed the restaurant building itself is not the right space for “what they are trying to do”.

The neighbours also complained that smells from the cooking were coming into their home.

Cllr Deborah Robert (Ind, Foxton), chair of the sub-committee, asked the applicants if they had spoken with the neighbours to deal with the concerns.

Ms Green and fellow applicant Luigi Lanni said they had passed the concerns over the building to their landlord - a builder - who done work to fix the issue regarding the smells.

They also disputed that the music played was loud, telling councillors that they only play background music.

Ms Green continued that they “had tried” to speak with the neighbours, but the relationship had broken down. She explained that she would be happy to work and speak with council officers “as best as they possibly can” to meet any issues.

She added: “I do feel that we do desperately need these extra hours on a Friday and Saturday night to make the business work.

“We’ve already lost three shops in the village in the last two years and it would be a shame to lose another one.

“We’ve been there 10 years now and it is getting to that point that without these hours, sadly, I don’t think we can continue.”

Councillors left the meeting to discuss the application in private.

They later published their decision to refuse the application, which said: “Evidence provided showed there had been a continuing and persistent noise nuisance.

“It was considered that to extend the time during which alcohol could be sold on the premises, would further exacerbate the existing issues and cause a public nuisance.”

The restaurant can appeal the decision at a magistrates’ court.

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