Lewes residents’ fears over alcohol licence at former Aqua premises

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A restaurateur’s bid to secure an alcohol licence for a new premises in Lewes is to be considered by district councillors next week, writes Local Democracy Reporter Huw Oxburgh. 

On Tuesday (November 26), a panel of Lewes councillors are to consider an application for a seven-day premises licence to serve alcohol at 2 Old Court House in Friars Walk.

The premises, which sits below the Premier Inn, was previously occupied by the Italian restaurant Aqua until it closed its doors in May this year.

According to council documents, the applicant SK Restaurants (Sussex) Ltd intends to re-open the premises as a “New York-style” restaurant, with alcohol to be sold up until 10.30pm seven days a week. 

While no objections (subject to conditions) have been raised by Sussex Police, the application has seen several residents raise objections on the grounds the new premises would undermine the licensing objectives of preventing public nuisance, crime and disorder.

They have penned several letters highlighting existing anti-social behaviour from late night drinking. 

All the objections are set to be considered as part of the licence hearing on Tuesday.

The applicant, however, has offered a number of conditions intended to address these concerns as part of its bid. These include CCTV monitoring and staff training.

While the premises will include a bar area, the application says, much of the alcohol sold would be served to tables by waiting staff.

According to council papers, the licence applied for would also see alcohol sales finish earlier than Aqua’s licence, which allowed for the sale of alcohol from 10am to midnight, Monday to Sunday.

Council papers also highlight that the neighbouring premises – The Fuego Lounge – has a later alcohol licence; allowing it to service until 11pm between Sunday and Wednesday and until midnight between Thursday and Saturday.

The applicant is, however, also seeking non-standard opening hours for New Year’s Eve, allowing alcohol sales until 12.30am.

The application is set to be considered by councillors on Tuesday, November 26.