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Fire chiefs and planning officials have voiced opposition to contentious plans to extend the hours at a popular place for street food near the boundary of North Staffordshire. Congleton's Capital Walk managers want to be able to stay open until 1am on weekends, but their proposal has raised concerns about the safety of the public. However, the £2 million establishment, which comprises several food and beverage establishments, has raised concerns from the Cheshire Fire Authority and Cheshire East Council's Building Control over its opening in a shuttered retail centre in 2022. They claim that due to fire safety, it is now covered by an enforcement order and a restriction notice.
Today, October 10, council licencing chiefs will hear plans to allow the High Street location of the event venue to sell alcohol on and off-site for an additional two hours and play music until one in the morning on Friday and Saturday nights. The Cheshire Fire Authority has objected in writing, claiming that the property is "unsafe for use."
Building Control for Cheshire East Council also issues a caution, noting "breaches to fire compartmentation, lack of fire resistance to structural elements, and lack of a fire strategy to justify the means of escape and occupancy levels on the property" as current problems. The building's rear addition's noncompliance has the council concerned as well.
The Dublin Bar and the unit above are the regions of most concern, according to the complaints.
The proprietors of Capital Walk, CW House Ltd, are represented in the application by Valentino Martone, the authorised premises supervisor, who states: "We wish to extend our opening hours, sale and supply of alcohol, and recorded music for two hours on a Friday and Saturday, taking it from 11pm to 1am."
The neighbourhood's restaurants and bars include Honolulu Tiki Bar, Bangkok Street Grill, Boteco Brazilian Streetfood, Yankees Burgers and Shakes, the Dublin Bar, and Kingston Town Jamaican Grill. The facility now holds a premises permit valid until 11 p.m.
The proposals were submitted on August 15 of this year because the centre managers wanted to extend the hours for serving alcoholic beverages and playing recorded music from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. On September 13, a period of public input on the proposals came to a close.
A written objection made by the Building Control team with Planning Services at Cheshire East Council and to be discussed at tomorrow's committee meeting states: "Concerning the extension of the licence, my concerns are raised as the extended hours could affect the occupant's ability to recognise hazards and reaction times. As you will be aware, the behaviours associated with alcohol may be detrimental to how occupants exit the building in the event of a fire.
"Where the building cannot provide a compliant layout and exit strategy in terms of fire safety, then these issues may be compounded during an emergency evacuation of the building."
The written objection goes on to say: "I have serious concerns regarding public safety within the property, with particular regards to fire safety. We (Cheshire East Council) have served an enforcement notice under Section 36 of the Building Act following several site visits where contraventions of the building regulations have been identified at the property.
"The contraventions include breaches to fire compartmentation, lack of fire resistance to elements of structure, and lack of a fire strategy to justify the means of escape and occupancy levels to the property, as well as the construction of a non-compliant extension to the rear of the building. The areas of greatest concern are located within the Dublin Bar and the unit above; this location within the building obviously has particular relevance to the licence, with it specifically being a bar area.
"Following the issue of Section 36 notice, the owners started to undertake minor works in an attempt to commence the required remedial works; they have since undone these measures, and the building remains in a state of non-compliance about fire safety. I am aware that Cheshire Fire Service has also issued enforcement notices against the owners and that the owners are continuing to fail to put the necessary measures in place to make the building safe.
"As such, I have great concerns that the owners are not willing to take responsibility for the building and the safety of its occupants. I understand that the original licence has a condition applied to ensure that they have a fire risk assessment (FRA) in place. They cannot have a satisfactory FRA currently due to the number of fire safety issues identified by Cheshire East Council and Cheshire Fire Service."
The objector goes on to inquire if there is a formal process for recommending a review of the licence.
A written objection received by the council from the Cheshire Fire Authority states: "We wish to make a representation to the Licencing Authority because we think that the public safety objective has not been adequately addressed. The area(s) of concern are as follows: The premises are subject to an enforcement notice and a prohibition notice from the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.
"The premises are prohibited for use by the public due to concerns for the safety of persons within the premises. It is clear that the premises are unsafe for use, and the premises are unable to address public safety when the premises are used for an extended period as requested in this licence variation. Should the enforcement notice and prohibition notice be satisfactorily complied with, then we would remove our objections to this licence variation."
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30 November 2023
05 September 2023