A motorcycle and bike shop in Whitley, Reading is set to be converted into a convenience store.
That’s despite the concerns of hundreds of neighbours about a ‘concentration’ of off licences, anti-social behaviour and traffic build-up in the area.
Earlier this year, an application was submitted for a licence to sell alcohol from the old Smiths motorbike shop and MOT centre in Whitley Wood Lane for a proposed Whitley Superstore to open in the area.
More than a hundred neighbours objected, raising fears anti-social behaviour and public nuisance in the area could increase the sale of alcohol.
Ghanshyam Patel, the owner of Niki Convenience Store located directly opposite was one of the objectors, arguing that there is an ‘oversaturation’ of places selling alcohol in Whitley.
Mr Patel submitted a petition signed by 162 neighbours opposing the licence application.
The bid to sell alcohol from the proposed Whitley Superstore was decided at a licensing committee meeting.
Councillor Micky Leng (Labour, Whitley), speaking on behalf of residents, urged the committee to recognise the strength of feeling among neighbours.
He said: “We’ve got a lot of places where you can get alcohol, that’s a fact, there is a saturation point.”
Neighbours were also represented by David Dadds, who questioned whether Pajan Singh Kaneja, the applicant, knew the four licensing objectives, which are to protect public safety, prevent crime and disorder, prevent public nuisance and protect children from harm.
Mr Kaneja was able to list the objectives during the meeting.
Furthermore, his representative, Surendra Panchal added that Mr Kaneja had years of experience operating a Costcutter store.
Mr Panchal said his client was happy to consider conditions controlling operations at the proposed Whitley Superstore.
He said: “We do need to work with the neighbours because they will be using the shop.”
Atul Patel, a neighbour present at the meeting, pointed out there are no car parking spaces at the front of the building in Whitley Wood Lane.
However, it was agreed that drivers could park at the rear of the proposed store accessed from Whitley Wood Road, which has space for approximately 20 cars.
Ultimately, the licence was granted for the proposed store to open and serve alcohol from 7am to 11pm each day.
It has been granted on the condition that mini bottles under 200ml are not sold, no single can or bottle of alcohol is sold per customer, a personal licence holder must be at the store during operation times, and two CCTV cameras must be established outside of the store.
The decision was made by cllrs Paul Woodward (Labour, Church), Clarence Mitchell (Conservative, Emmer Green) and Sue Kitchingham (Labour, Caversham Heights) on Thursday, July 20.
Mr Dadds suggested that bottles and cans should have stickers placed on them but that was rejected by Cllr Paul Woodward , the chair of the committee, because the suggested condition had not been raised prior to the meeting.
The grant of the licence means that the old Smiths motorbike centre can have alcohol sold from it and will eventually be converted into a convenience store.
Smiths closed in October 2018 after 73 years of trading, with it being established by Kenneth Smith in 1945.