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Will the storm blow over with Newark and Sherwood District Council over licensing of Newark's Corn Exchange?

The owners of the Corn Exchange have attempted to strike a conciliatory note today in a row that blew up over the licensing of the premises.

Matt Clark, a director of Corn Exchange Newark Ltd, said an "unintended storm" had brewed up.

Corn Exchange building, Newark.. (4615000)
Corn Exchange building, Newark.. (4615000)

Newark and Sherwood District Council sets out its stall in row over licensing of Corn Exchange

Corn Exchange Newark Ltd requested a 4.30am closing time for indoor and outdoor activities on a Friday and Saturday.

However, a licensing panel made up of Newark and Sherwood district councillors agreed that indoor activities instead should cease at 3.30am instead.

It said all outdoor activities, including the consumption of alcohol, should cease at 11pm, for the benefit of local residents.

Mr Clark said he hoped to be able to work with the Newark and Sherwood District Council to resolve the current licensing restriction either through negotiation, appeal or, likely, a new application.

Exterior view of Newark Corn Exchange building. 110320DD2-5. (31894688)
Exterior view of Newark Corn Exchange building. 110320DD2-5. (31894688)

Mr Clark said: “Following reports that the council supported the opening of the Corn Exchange until 3.30hrs, the fact remains that the key proposed function of the basement of the premise is music and dancing, and whilst customers are permitted to stay in that area only until 3.30am on Friday and Saturday evenings, the venue is not permitted to allow music (live or recorded) or dancing beyond 2.45am, therefore in essence the council have granted a 2.45am licence.

"Despite our wishes of ongoing partnership working with all interested parties, and aims to bring the property back into use, we do feel that the council are pushing for something that is not viable.

"We feel in a David versus Goliath position as a small business and one trying to do right by the town.

"The site has since 2014 had permission to open up as a 1000+ capacity nightclub across three floors and sprawling garden area until 3am.

"However, we felt this was not the right solution for the location.

"Therefore the site has remained vacant and has been marketed for several years, with substantial contribution and concession offered by landlord.

"As confirmed by an experienced local agent all offers have backed away due to the difficulties and restrictions with gaining a licence to trade at the property.

"We still believe that our vision is a perfect mix for the town, the building and the responsible authorities.

"We hope that the council will reconsider their position and offer other night time economy businesses the opportunity to survive and perhaps even grow.

"We remain astounded by and so grateful for the support from the local community, clearly showing that our vision has found favour with them.

"All neighbouring districts including towns and cities have later terminal hours than that offered by Newark and Sherwood District.

"As pointed out by one supporter, ‘how will Newark attract students if it has no night time economy?’ and suggested by another ‘it is time we had a full council consultation on the night time economy’.

"We are fully in support of consultation and urge the town’s fund to focus on such."

Police, environmental health and a number of local residents had objected to the 4.30am closing time, which was said to be needed to make the whole venture financially viable.

The council said last night that in considering the application, the panel had given due regard to the potential impact on crime and disorder, public nuisance, public safety, and protection of children.

"The times permitted on the licence are a balance between supporting the Newark night time economy while giving some protection to the local neighbourhood," it said.

"The panel took full consideration of the applicant’s business case and the decision was made based on the fact that the application was for multifaceted operation covering different areas of the building offering different experiences, including live music, dining and plays."

Members of the licensing committee have received what council leader David Lloyd described as unpleasant, and anonymous, calls and messages on the basis of inaccurate information.

The plans for the Grade II listed Corn Exchange, a former nightclub that has lain dormant for years, were said to be family-orientated by day and for the discerning drinker by night.

The first floor would become an ever-changing food court that would seat more than 100 diners, there would be a main bar on the ground floor with a gaming area offering some revival classics such as shuffleboard, and modern upgrades such as interaction darts, board games, dominoes and cards.

Live music would regularly be on offer during weekends and themed nights during mid-week.

The basement area would become a late-serving cocktail bar that would close at 4.30am on weekend nights. It was argued by the applicant that the whole venture was not financially viable without the late-night agreement.

There would be a garden area and a bandstand out back and a secret bar.

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