Gorse Hill licensing application
On Monday evening members of the Licensing Committee met to consider a request by De Vere Venues for an extension of alcohol hours at the Gorse Hill hotel and conference centre on Hook Heath Road. At present the hotel is licensed to serve alcohol up to 11pm. De Vere submitted an application to increase this to 2am on every night of the week. Permission was also sought to remove some of the conditions attached to the license, which limits Gorse Hill to providing refreshments only to guests and those attending a conference or event at the venue.
The application was quite contentious with around forty letters of objection received from members of the public. Most representations centred on what was believed to be an ongoing problem with public nuisance arising from patrons leaving the premises shortly before midnight. Residents complained about general bad behaviour by De Vere guests including urinating in driveways near the hotel, minor damage being caused to parked cars, the theft of signs and dustbins from neighbouring front gardens, and loud talking and arguing on the street for several hours after closing time. The situation was complicated by the fact that many of these issues have not historically been reported to the police or the council’s environmental health team, making it difficult to judge the scale of the problem.
The committee was mindful of arguments on both sides, and it was felt that keeping the existing conditions to the license would reassure those who feared that the nature of Gorse Hill would change from a conference venue area to a pub which would admit all comers late into the night. However, we also believed that for a venue offering weddings and overnight events, the current limit 10pm limit on alcohol was too restrictive. Given the real concerns about noise and disruption, the committee felt that 2am was unreasonable for a venue in a quiet residential area such as Hook Heath. It was therefore agreed that the alcohol hours be extended from 11pm to midnight, but only on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
In making this decision, I recommended to members of the Hook Heath Residents’ Association, many of whom were in attendance at the meeting, that they should reach out and build dialogue with De Vere so that future problems can be addressed amicably. Serious cases of disorder or anti-social behaviour should be reported to the police since this will inform any future review of the venue’s licensing hours.