Licence for proposed new Lancing convenience store discussed

Proposals for a new convenience store in Lancing were discussed at an Adur District Council’s licensing committee meeting yesterday (Thursday August 12).

Monday, 16th August 2021, 9:20 am
The empty Lancing unit, which could house a One Stop store

The unit at 135-137 South Street was previously a car showroom but could soon house a One Stop shop.

If granted, a premises license would allow the store to operate and sell alcohol from 7am until midnight.

An investment of £120,000 would see the unit refurbished into a brand new store selling fresh and frozen foods, toiletries, household goods, magazines and newspapers. The owner hopes to employ around seven staff.

Customers would also be able to pay bills and collect and send parcels from the store.

Two residents expressed concerns to the committee over the proposed opening hours and the potential for late night alcohol sales.

The applicant’s agent said he has ‘significant experience behind him’ and had partnered with One Stop to open the convenience store.

She said: “He [the applicant] has made sales of alcohol for many years.

“He started his first business on his own with a 24-hour forecourt. He ran one for four years, worked there full-time and employed four staff.

“He had no problems at all and he still has a business with a license in Bognor Regis which is a fully fledged off license.

“I hope that will give the residents some comfort that they have got someone who will trade responsibly on their own street.”

According to the agent, alcohol ‘is not the sole focus of the business’ and is predicted to make up around ten to 15 per cent of sales.

One resident, who lives in one of the flats above the proposed convenience store, said he was concerned at the proposed opening hours of 7am to midnight.

He said: “By granting this license, you are stopping us from going to bed until 11pm – you’re controlling our lives, dictating what time we go to bed.”

Another resident, who lives opposite the proposed One Stop store, said that ‘all other shops are closed at this time’ and asked for the opening hours to be reduced.

The applicant’s agent said that most customers were likely to ‘walk in, buy something and walk out’ which she argued ‘will not stop residents from sleeping’.

She added that the opening hours are in line with those of other One Stop stores.

One resident claimed that there are ‘altercations’ late at night in the area and felt a convenience store with late opening hours and alcohol sales could increase disturbance to residents.

He said: “Does the committee know Lancing’s crime record? The teenagers act like gangsters at the nearby skate park. Every day I hear shouting and swearing already- it’s just going to get worse.”

The agent said opening times could be brought back by one hour after hearing residents’ concerns.

Rob Wilkinson (Con, Cokeham) asked if the two residents would be happier if the alcohol license ended earlier at around 8pm with the closing time remaining the same.

One asked that the closing time be brought back to 9 or 10pm.

He said: “Even if you’re going to buy a packet of Weetabix, if you turn up in your car, slam your car door, park on the double yellows, buy it, then open the car boot and throw it in the boot and then drive off and do a U-turn in our entrance way – which is not uncommon – that’s equally disturbing regardless of the nature of the purchase.”

The agent said that a license should not be granted ‘based on opinion’ and that the applicant was ‘beyond any doubt responsible with an excellent track record’.

She added: “It is not enough to bring anecdotes, the police must be here to express concern over such issues and the fact that they aren’t says everything.”

Sussex Police have asked the applicant to install CCTV and practice a ‘Challenge 25’ policy to ensure alcohol is sold legally and to prevent anti-social behaviour, which he agreed to. Therefore, the force withdrew any objection to the license.

Council officers said that license holders ‘can’t control what happens 20 yards down the road’ and unless incidents can be specifically linked to a business, the license holder would not be responsible.

Catherine Arnold (Lab, St Mary’s) expressed concerns over the safety of staff – and particularly lone female staff – who may operate the premises at night, saying: “I used to work in a premises like this and you can get some very unreasonable people coming out of pubs. How will he [the applicant] protect staff?”

The agent assured councillors that a full risk assessment would be in place but noted that this is not a condition for granting a license.

A decision on whether to grant the premises license will be issued within five working days.