Rye cafe granted revised alcohol licence

A Rye cafe’s bid to amend its alcohol licence has been given the go ahead by Rother councillors.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 3:24 pm

The Fig, a cafe in Rye High Street, had been granted its previous alcohol licence in May 2019, but it included some significant restrictions in light of concerns around noise disturbance from neighbours. 

By seeking a new licence, the cafe had sought to remove some of these restrictions, giving it longer serving hours and the ability to open its windows after 8pm. 

The application had seen objections from several neighbours due to concerns around noise, but after a hearing on March 25 a Rother District Council licensing panel agreed to grant the new licence. 

A spokesman for the panel said: “It was made clear by the applicant that alcohol was an ancillary aspect of the operation, and the panel was re-assured there would be no prospect for people to just drink at the premises. 

“The premises had a very limited capacity, and the panel accepted the submission that as the evenings progressed, few customers were staying until closing time. In that respect the panel accepted, on balance, that noise from the open windows was unlikely to disturb local residents.”

The greatest changes from the previous licence would be new serving hours, with the cafe allowed to sell alcohol from 10am to 9.45pm, seven days a week.

Previously the cafe could only serve alcohol from 11am to 5pm for half of the year and from 11am to 10pm for the other six months.

The full changes also included the removal of a condition requiring The Fig to keep its doors and windows closed after 8pm. This had originally not been time limited, but was altered on appeal.  

At the hearing, legal representatives for The Fig said the business had operated under these arrangements through temporary event notices last year. He said no noise complaints had been made during these periods, showing it could operate this way without disturbance.

The council’s environmental health team also reported that it had only received one complaint (in December 2019) relating to noise from the premises.

Council papers show this was made by a local resident about early morning deliveries by a small refrigerated van, but no evidence was found to substantiate the complaint and the matter was resolved informally.

Residents denied this however, arguing that they had made numerous complaints to the council about disturbance from the cafe. 

Residents also said the issues around other disturbances should not be dismissed as planning matters alone, arguing that the supply of alcohol would increase footfall and exacerbate these issues.  

In light of concerns raised by residents, the panel did impose some additional conditions on top of those offered by the cafe. 

These included directions around how bins should be stored and handled in an effort to avoid noise and disruption to neighbours.

A spokesman for the panel said: “The panel had to find a balance between the aspirations of commercial operators wanting to extend their businesses, whilst at the same time protecting the lives of those who live around the venue. 

“The panel was satisfied, on balance, that the modest hours included within the licence, together with the conditions imposed upon the grant of the licence, would ensure that neighbours were protected from any potential noise nuisance.”