Chichester bar owner feels 'totally betrayed' by council after operating hours blunder

The owner of a popular city-centre venue said he feels ‘totally betrayed’ by Chichester District Council (CDC) after a decision to allow the bar to open until 2.30am was quashed in the High Court.
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The application to open until 2.30am was approved in December 2019 but now, two-and-a-half years later, and after having forked-out more than £100,000 in the planning process, the permission has been rescinded following a high court judgement.

The Vestry still has a licence to serve alcohol until 2am, but no longer has planning permission to stay open past midnight.

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Owner Iain Brown said he feels ‘totally betrayed’ by the decision and CDC’s ‘failure to challenge the judicial review despite acknowledging its own failures in the planning process’ – an allegation which has been put to the council.

Owner of the Vestry Iain Brown and DPS Nick MarshallOwner of the Vestry Iain Brown and DPS Nick Marshall
Owner of the Vestry Iain Brown and DPS Nick Marshall

The high court case was brought by developers of nearby flats, Parkview Homes.

Mr Brown said: “I think Chichester [District] Council should be ashamed. There are 30 people’s livelihoods at risk here. Our customers, our whole business – we are part of Chichester. We have spent £103,000 going through every hoop that the council has asked us to jump through.

“I think we are being treated in an exceptionally poor way for a reason that we don’t understand and the council themselves have said, ‘we want Southgate to be the nighttime economy’.”

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Nick Marshall, the designated premises supervisor for The Vestry, said: “We certainly feel that we are paying for their mistakes.”

The bar, which had the latest opening hours in the city, will now have to close its doors by midnight.

Mr Marshall added: “If we close there isn’t the capacity within the centre to deal with the number of people [at that time] and all that happens is the businesses that rely on that footfall will lose it.

“People will go to Portsmouth, Worthing and Bognor. People will go elsewhere.”

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After the previous planning permission was quashed, a new application has been submitted by the owner of the popular South Street venue to Chichester District Council

A CDC spokesperson said: “Chichester District Council’s decision to allow the extension of opening hours in support of The Vestry was unfortunately subject to a judicial review and was quashed.

“As a result, the applicant withdrew the application and has submitted a fresh application which is currently being considered.”

To see the latest application by The Vestry, visit CDC’s planning portal with the reference 21/00784/FUL.

The legal team representing Parkview Homes has been approached for comment.