Leeds store faces resistance to licence bid over street drinking fears

By David Spereall, Local Democracy Reporter

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The proposed shop unit on the corner of Ashley Road/Harehills Road. (Photo: Google Maps via LDRS)

Campaigners are fighting plans to open another off-licence in a neighbourhood troubled by drink-related anti-social behaviour.

An application for a convenience store selling alcohol in Leeds’ Harehills area has been submitted to the city council in the last week.

The store, which would be located in a unit on the junction between Harehills Road and Ashley Road, would sell booze between 9am and 10pm under the plans.

But Harehills Labour councillor Salma Arif said the area can’t cope with another retailer selling alcohol, amid problems with nuisance street drinkers and crime in the area.

The premises falls within Leeds’ cumulative impact area (CIA), which means bids for new alcohol licences are likely to be rejected unless applicants can demonstrate they will improve the locality.

Councillor Arif said: “From my perspective, my stance is still the same as it always has been. I’m very, very clear we don’t want another off licence.

“We’ve got far too many as it is and there is a saturation at the moment.

“It is smack bang within the cumulative impact zone, so the council’s licensing department, public health and the police are all pulling together to submit objections.”

A separate application for another off-licence was rejected in June after police told a licensing hearing that Harehills had become a “holiday resort” for street drinkers, because of the availability of cheap booze.

It was the fourth such application to be knocked back since the CIA was extended to cover Harehills.

That was despite the managers of the prospective store promising to only sell alcohol to customers who purchased at least £5 worth of groceries, in a move aimed at “designing out” street drinkers coming in.

Councillor Arif said that the knock-on effects of street drinking in the area were causing public safety and child welfare issues.

“We’ve got lots of children in the area and it’s not something they want to see every day,” she said.

“I’ve encouraged local residents to submit objections to me and I’ve had quite a big response already to that.”