City of Durham Trust

Magistrates turn down licence for Back Silver Street pub

Durham magistrates, sitting as the licensing committee, have turned down an application from AMEC for a licence for the proposed new Cafe/Bar in Back Silver Street. Their decision has slowed the growth of new large drinking establishments in the City.

The licensing hearing took place on Thursday February 3rd 2000. After Police and Fire Brigade representatives raised no objections, the magistrates heard three objectors - Douglas Pocock and Roger Cornwell, respectively Secretary and Chairman of the Trust, and Tom Lay, a former Trustee, making an individual objection but speaking with the experience of a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator.

The applicant, AMEC, was represented by a Mr Evans. He said that the pub had planning permission (granted 2 August) and also that it had the approval of English Heritage, and had been on display at the Royal Academy in London over the summer. Answering a question from the Roger Cornwell, he said that the capacity was around 500-600. Questioned by Douglas Pocock, he said that the Millennium and Walkergate schemes were the same project, along with this development. He was clearly trying to widen the approval for the Millennium Scheme to this pub; Douglas was able to put him right. Pressed by Tom Lay, he denied all knowledge of public disorder in Durham after the pubs turned out, despite the many examples in the Gilesgate area which Tom cited.

Douglas Pocock, the Trust's secretary, was the first of the objectors to give evidence. He said that there were already enough public houses in the City. he also drew attention to the situation of the pub, next to the mill race, which posed obvious dangers should drinkers fall in. He was followed by Trust Chairman Roger Cornwell, who supported Douglas and was able to give specific examples of vandalism in his street, which his neighbours had told him about. Roger and Douglas also spoke of the way the development would draw customers from outside the city, which could lead to an increase in drink-driving offences.

After an adjournment of about 10 minutes, the magistrates returned to say they had decided not to grant the licence. The clerk advised the objectors that the applicants had three weeks in which they could lodge an appeal; if they did the matter would be heard at the Crown Court.

After the hearing, a statement was given to Mark Summers of the Northern Echo; subsequently Roger Cornwell gave an interview to BBC Radio Newcastle and the Evening Chronicle.

Two weeks and six days later an appeal was lodged, stating the grounds in general terms.

The Trust geared itself up to fight that appeal but, at the last moment, we received notification from the applicant's solicitors that they were withdrawing. We now understand the site is being considered for housing.

The problems created by the growth in drinking establishments in the City are highlighted in a series of articles listed here.
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Last updated by Roger Cornwell on 20 February 2001.