A new Wellingborough Road cafe wants to sell alcohol from its premises, but is facing some resistance from residents.
Bar Cafe Milano, which recently opened its doors in June, has applied to Northampton Borough Council for a licence allowing it to sell booze until 11pm daily, and close half an hour later.
But neighbours of the cafe, which is opposite the Spread Eagle pub, are concerned about the potential for anti-social behaviour, and three have lodged objections with the council.
One wrote: “The cafe is already causing a nuisance to local residents. Most evenings if residents walk up to that area, it is full of cars parked by customers of the cafe on the double yellow lines, there are large groups of males sitting and standing outside smoking and it can be quite intimidating for residents when walking past.”
The cafe already offers freshly ground coffee, breakfast and all-day food menus and snacks. Members of the borough council’s licensing committee will consider the application, and the representations, when it meets at The Guildhall next Wednesday morning (September 18).
But the hearing will take an odd turn, as the council itself is formally objecting to the proposals. That objection is not on the ground of alcohol sales however. Instead, it is contesting the cafe’s use of a piece of land behind the venue, which it has converted into a seating area for customers.
The licensing committee received a formal objection from a council planning enforcement officer, who wrote: “Planning permission has not been granted for the change of use of the land to the rear of the site from open amenity space to paved area for tables and chairs. The planning department formally objects to this proposal as we have not been given the opportunity to formally determine the suitability of the scheme and consult with local residents.”
The seating area is actually owned by the council itself, and an estates officer at the authority also wrote in to oppose the application, writing: “NBC, as a landowner, wishes to lodge an objection. This is in order to prevent public nuisance, but only insofar as the application includes an external area to the rear of 152 Wellingborough Road. Incidentally, NBC has not consented to the use of any part of its land by the operator of Bar Cafe Milano.”
But Frank Fender, of FJF Licensing Solutions, is acting on behalf of the cafe, and responded in writing: “My client told me that the landlord of the property had been communicating with the council and apparently gave permission for its use. My client has not been in any discussion with the council, it was all down to the landlord.”
As part of the application, the outside seating area would close earlier in the evening, if it is allowed to remain. The environmental health team at the borough council had appeared to want the outdoor seating area to close at 6pm, although the applicants had applied for a 9pm closing time a compromise has been reached for 8pm.
Mr Fender adds: “My client advises that the residents of the properties at the rear of his cafe create much noise themselves, and that he does not believe that the customers of his cafe would add to any nuisance that already exists.”