Cheltenham Borough Council
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Agenda item

APPLICATION FOR PERMISSION TO PLACE AN OBJECT ON THE HIGHWAY

Miss Casey Mann - 18/02791/OBJAX

 

Minutes:

 The Chair advised that he conducted a site visit on the 5th March, he had not spoken to anyone on site. Councillor Seacome also advised that he had visited the site.

 

The Licensing Team Leader introduced the report, he explained that Bakers Fine Jewellery had made an application to place an advertising board outside 15 Montpellier Walk. The timings that Bakers intended to display the ‘A’ board were outlined at 1.2 of the report and a picture of the proposed structure included at Appendix A. He confirmed that the application does not comply with the council’s adopted policy with regards to its size which exceeds the maximum permitted dimensions and the fact the premises is not disadvantaged by its location. He advised that the committee must determine the application with a view to promoting the Council’s adopted policy and whilst the policy and officer recommendation should not fetter the committee’s discretion, the committee should only depart from the policy where there are clear and defensible reasons for doing so.

 

The Licensing Team Leader confirmed that the area outside Montpellier Walk is classed as privately maintained public highway. This is reflected in the fact that they do not charge  them a licence fee, however, the premises still require permission by virtue of being located on a public highway.

 

The applicant was invited to speak in support of her application, she explained that:

 

·           They had thought it was acceptable to display an A board as many of the other premises on Montpellier Walk also displayed one. Some businesses also had boards larger than what they had displayed. Other businesses on Montpellier Walk also had roped areas with table and chairs within that exceeded the space taken up with an A board.

·           They had understood that they were required to leave a certain width on the pavement for pedestrians and they have taken that in to consideration. 

·           They had not done it to intentionally cause problems but thought they were within their rights due to the fact other businesses on Montpellier Walk had A boards.

·           Bakers was slightly set back and was almost barricaded by the table and chairs of other properties.

 

With regards to the other businesses on Montpellier Walk, the Licensing Team Leader confirmed that there were a number of pending court cases as several businesses had unlawfully displayed A boards. However, it could take up to 6 months for this to go through the courts. He advised that some businesses were lawfully displaying A boards as they were permitted within areas with table and chairs. He reiterated that the committee should deal with the applications on its individual merits.

 

Following a question from Members, he confirmed that there were 3 businesses on Montpellier Walk that had displayed A boards without consent and were  being dealt with through the courts. He advised that a business located in the basement had consent to display an A board due to the fact their premises was disadvantaged by its location.

 

In response to a query from a Member about why Bakers required an A board given that they had a large branded awning which was visible from the road, the applicant explained that they wished to highlight the services that they provided which included repairs, particularly as people could often be intimated by fine jewellers.

 

In the debate, the Members made the following comments:

 

  • They noted that there were already a number of premises with A boards and table and chairs along Montpellier walk and acknowledged that there was inevitably an issue with the policy given that businesses could display A boards if they also have an area with tables and chairs. They agreed that the policy needed reviewing and a consistent approach to the licensing of A boards needed to be devised. As such, Members felt that the applicant shouldn’t be disadvantaged because of CBC’s policy and felt it reasonable to deviate from the policy;
  • Members agreed that they needed to be mindful of the 3 cases going through the courts and they shouldn’t ignore the cumulative effect on the area of allowing such applications. As such, one Member was reluctant to permit the application as it could undermine the 3 other cases that were going through the courts;
  • Members highlighted that A boards could cause problems for the blind and partially sighted;
  • They empathised with the applicant’s point that customers were often nervous about approaching such establishments and understood why they wished to highlight the services they provided. They were also satisfied that the applicant had left enough space on the curb for pedestrians;
  • Members believed the applicant acted in good faith and were struggling to see what physical harm the A board caused;
  • The A board seemed solid and sturdy and well made. The applicant confirmed that the board would be taken down in high winds and had been designed to be in keeping with the street scene. Members did, however, acknowledge that it was not consistent with the policy in terms of its size.

 

One Member suggested deferring the application until after the April meeting when the committee would have had the opportunity to make revisions to the street scene and A board policy. They felt that they needed a clear and consistent policy and the inconsistencies with regards to table and chairs policy was unfair.

 

The Chair highlighted that the other premises had failed to apply for a licence and that’s why they were the subject of court proceedings. He felt that there was a risk to deferring and they had to consider the human rights act. He reasoned that if they were minded to grant it could be revisited in light of the new policy.

 

The Legal Officer advised that deferring would be inappropriate given that they were unaware of the outcome of the policy review and questioned what the applicant would do in the meantime. She further highlighted that the committees decision would not materially impact on the 3 other cases going through the courts as the magistrates act on beyond reasonable doubt and so it was for the businesses to prove that they hadn’t committed an offence. She advised that they should concentrate on the application before them today.

 

The Licensing Team Leader confirmed that the committee in 2014 had adopted the street scene policy. However, this was up for review in April and so the committee had the opportunity to make revisions to it. He confirmed that A board licences were renewable each year and so the committee could review their decision once a new policy had been devised. Following a Members question, the Licensing Team Leader confirmed that the committee also had the option to revoke a licence if there is a policy change that affects a previous decision. 

 

One Member questioned when someone commits an offence, whether they are tried on the policies and procedures in place at the time. The Legal officer confirmed that they are judged on the policies that were in place on the day the offence was committed. She advised that the cases going through the court were because the applicant had displayed an A board without consent and because they were causing an obstruction to the highway.

 

One Member explained that if the committee were minded to permit, they would like to put a condition on the licence regarding the size of the A board, as at present it was not compliant with the council’s policy. The applicant confirmed that they would be happy to reduce the size of the A board. Other Members felt that the A board was in keeping with the area and not out of proportion despite the fact it was larger than the policy requirements. It was established that the A board was 170mm too high and 206mm too wide, which the committee reasoned was not a great deal. As such, the Member withdrew their proposed condition.

 

The committee proceeded to vote on section 1.7.1 of the report to approve the application because Members are satisfied that the location is suitable.

 

Upon a vote it was unanimous.

 

RESOLVED THAT

 

The application be approved because Members are satisfied that the location is suitable.

 

The Licensing Team Leader confirmed that the policy review was already scheduled for April and within this included a review of street trading, objects on the highway and charitable collections.

 

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