Early closure of karaoke bar not enough for residents’ group

A city-centre advocacy group says moves by Sheffield City Council to restrict the operating hours of a karaoke bar do not go far enough.

The Soho bar in West One Plaza wanted a licence to stay open until 5am, but the City Council ruled it must close its doors at 2am.

But Changing Sheff, a group dedicated to the preservation of Sheffield city-centre, wanted the bar to close at 12.30am owing to noise concerns, and criticised the council decision not to lower the operating times further.

The licensing committee, which met on the 24th of April, 2023 to discuss the proposed venue, heard arguments from both sides before ruling on a 2am closure time.

Peter Sephton who chairs Changing Sheff on behalf of city centre residents argued that the establishment of the proposed bar is an encroachment on West One Plaza as a “night-time quiet area.” 

Arguing that the allowance of a late-night dance venue in the quiet area would create a precedent of nightlife expansion outside of West Street, Mr Sephton proposed a reduction of the operating hours to 12:30 in line with other West One restaurants.

Speaking on the Soho owners, he said: “This applicant for Soho is attempting to move the premises into the night-time economy – If this is permitted, it becomes part of the domino effect.”

Nick White, the representative for Wollaton Trade – the Soho operators – explained at the meeting that though the venue will offer karaoke, it will primarily function as a restaurant and close at similar times to comparable nearby establishments.

Mr White also states that the venue – to prevent noise nuisance – will not feature outdoor seating and proposes noise-insulation measures in function rooms. 

Changing Sheff have nevertheless raised doubt about the council’s decision.

Speaking on the difficulties posed to residential areas by the encroaching nightlife of West Street, Mr Sephton said: “If new accommodation isn’t to be in the city-centre because people are turning away from it, and we just lost a resident who said ‘I can’t stand this any longer’ of West Street – it’s either new housing in your area or it’s expansion into the green belt.”

Changing Sheff continues to criticise the decision – which constitutes a sharp contrast to their ruling to refuse a music licence to a micro pub on noise-nuisance concerns several months ago. See story here: Complaints from neighbours silences Sheffield micro-pub – ShefLive

Written by Ben Ryan

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