Wholesaler’s bid to open first off-licence refused

By Sarah Booker-Lewis, Local Democracy Reporter

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A new off-licence, called Stockbev, is proposed on the site of the Old Village clothes shop, in Duke Street, Brighton

Councillors have turned down a booze wholesaler’s bid to open his first shop.

Chirag Patel wanted to open an off-licence with tasting classes called Stockbev, on the site of the Old Village clothes shop in Duke Street, Brighton.

However, he faced opposition from Sussex Police, Brighton and Hove City Council licensing department because the shop is in the council’s cumulative impact zone, where there are restrictions on new businesses selling alcohol.

In its decision, the panel of three councillors said Patel had not shown “exceptional circumstances” for them to allow another premises selling alcohol in the city centre.

During the hearing on Thursday, 1 October, Patel and his barrister Rowan Jenkins explained the business was not aimed at people going to buy cheap alcohol, but a niche business aimed at those interested in different and unusual wines and spirits.

However, Sussex Police argued the Regency ward area, which includes the Lanes, ranks first in the force’s records for crime and disorder, for violence against the person and second-worst for alcohol-related incidents.

Even though the applicant insisted his potential customers would not add to crime, force licensing officer Mark Thorogood said that they could become a victim of crime.

The police highlighted that Patel could not turn his intentions for the business into enforceable conditions, which means if granted, there is a risk of another off-licence taking over the site in the future.

The panel’s decision, published on Monday, October 13, said: “The panel does appreciate that the applicant has passion and enthusiasm for what he would like to achieve at the premises.

“However, the measures and conditions proposed are not well thought out, and too many of them are not clear, precise or enforceable.”