Newark's Corn Exchange could now reopen as a multi-use leisure facility after council and applicant reach agreement on licensing hours
Newark's iconic Corn Exchange has been granted a licence which will allow it to open as a leisure venue once again.
The former nightclub on Castlegate has been closed for a number of years but, prior to covid, operators came forward with proposals to turn the building into a multi-leisure development. However, this hung on achieving a 4.30am closing time at weekends, which was deemed unacceptable.
Today, Newark and Sherwood District Council said its licensing authority had recognised the negative impact that covid-19 restrictions and closures since March 2020 had made to the night-time economy nationwide.
And, eager to encourage development of the sector, increase employment opportunities, bring back into use quality assets, and pave the way for high quality leisure and hospitality proposals to be enjoyed by residents and the future student population expected following Towns Fund investment in Newark, it had now reached agreement.
To this end the Corn Exchange operators and Newark and Sherwood District Council have jointly announced they have reached a negotiated position, in which to grant a licence to the premise, which is seen as sustainable to both parties.
The council said agreed operating hours will be in line with neighbouring districts and are partnered with a strong operating plan and certain licensing conditions.
There are licences and conditions for specific activities such as sale of alcohol, late-night refreshments and live music and shows.
While agreed in court today, the exact conditions will be published later.
However, in essence, the venue is licensed to be open to the public Monday to Wednesday from 8am to 2am the following day, Thursday and Sunday from 8am to 3.30am the following day, and Friday and Saturday from 8am to to 4.30am the following day.
The council said the experience of the operator and robust management systems are seen as critical to allowing this licence to be granted.
They are also important factors when considering those who live in close proximity to the venue while opening the door for the development of a first-class operation in the iconic building.
Matt Clark, director of Corn Exchange Newark Ltd, said: "We are thrilled after a long time, and significant investment in planning, to now be given this support from the licensing panel.
"We are grateful to Newark and Sherwood District Council’s elected members and officers as a whole who continue to work with us to review our plans, and we look forward to working with them in the future to bring the property back to life."
David Lloyd, leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “I am pleased that we have reached an agreement with the Corn Exchange operator with regards to how the building can be brought back into use with the best interests of our residents, the iconic building and employment opportunities at the heart of that decision.
“With recent investment in the town we are dedicated to increasing opportunities for our residents; making the town an even better place to live, work and visit.”
The council said subject to a planning application, bringing the Corn Exchange back into use could help boost the night time provision for residents.
Corn Exchange Newark Ltd had originally 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 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 residents.
Police, environmental health and a number of residents had objected to the 4.30am closing time, which was said to be needed to make the whole venture financially viable.
The plans for the grade II-listed Corn Exchange 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 also have been a garden area and a bandstand out back and a secret bar.
The Advertiser has approached Mr Clark to see whether the plans will remain the same.