Residents are gearing up to fight football superstar Gareth Bale’s plans to open a golf-themed bar in Bristol’s Harbourside.
The Wales captain’s business venture has applied for a premises licence for indoor adventure golf venue Par 59, next to Lane7 in Millennium Promenade, after its first branch opened in Cardiff just two weeks ago.
But neighbours have launched a campaign to stop it staying open until 1.30am from Thursday to Saturday and 12.30am on other nights, including half an hour drinking-up time.
David Mair, chairman of the leaseholders association for nearby Balmoral House and Waverley House, which comprise 104 apartments, led local opposition to a new Brewdog just a couple of doors down late last year.
It resulted in 165 residents’ objections – an unprecedented number in recent years for such an application in Bristol – and while the premises licence was granted, the pub chain agreed to curtail late-night opening in the face of overwhelming opposition.
Objections to Par 59’s application mean Bristol City Council must hold a licensing sub-committee hearing in the next few weeks to determine it too.
Mr Mair told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that bars in the area were increasingly seeking extreme licensing hours that did not match their apparent uses under planning permission.
He said that in the case of Units 2 and 3 of Building 11 in Millennium Parade – which is partly occupied by Lane7 and where Par 59 will also be – a planning officer granted consent for a change of use in 2020 to a bowling centre but not a pub, which he said Lane 7 effectively was in the evening when children were not allowed.
Par 59’s Cardiff venue, which has two nine-hole mini-golf courses, also describes itself as adults only, and Mr Mair fears there is a growing pattern of venues that supposedly cater for family entertainment and leisure under the planning system but are really drinking establishments under the separate but parallel licensing regime.
He said: “With every new late-night bar that opens, the noise and antisocial behaviour around the buildings get worse.
“The opening of Lane7 has had a significant impact on this, extending the party zone around Millennium Square ever closer towards the residential area.
“At weekends the noise from drunk revellers echoes round the buildings into the early hours. They weren’t designed for this level of street noise.
“The gardens of The Crescent and the reed beds beyond are becoming a public toilet.
“The area is losing its family-friendly appeal, with health and safety concerns increasing by the month.
“People can accuse us of nimbyism but there needs to be a balance between the interests of residents living in the city centre and the money-making concerns of business.
“Even the council admits this is not the case currently. It simply smacks of bad planning to allow late-night bar after late-night bar to open, with all the accompanying issues this creates.
“The licensing sub-committee must reject the application.”
Par 59’s premises licence application was submitted to the council on February 25 by True Swing Bristol Ltd, a new company incorporated in January that was set up by Real Madrid winger Bale along with James Humphrys, Nicholas Saunders and Peter Cro.
Tory Cllr Richard Eddy, who was chairman of the licensing sub-committee that imposed tough conditions on the new Brewdog at the hearing in January, said at the time he would raise the need to address the gap between planning and licensing policy with the council’s local plan working group.
He said that in a mixed-use community like Harbourside there was inconsistency which was unfair to both applicants and neighbours.
Cllr Eddy is supporting residents to present their case to limit the hours of Par 59 and criticised the council for huge delays in publishing the full decision from the Brewdog hearing on January 6, including the raft of licensing conditions, which campaigners had intended to use in their arguments.
The deadline for submitting representations was Monday (March 28) but the authority did not send out the decision until four days earlier.
Cllr Eddy described that as “disgraceful”, adding: “At the hearing, the protestors made it quite clear they rightly expected to receive written details of the licensing conditions imposed, and this information would inform their reaction to new similar applications, such as that subsequently received for Par 59.
“Almost three months later I am appalled that the residents had not heard anything from the council.”
The council was asked to comment on Cllr Eddy’s criticism.