The OPA planning Appeal

In July 2010 OPA applied for retrospective planning permission for change of use from restaurant to mixed use as a restaurant, bar and nightclub.  This was refused.  

Since this decision OPA has continued to operate as a nightclub in defiance of the committee’s decision.

Finally a Development Control Committee meeting in June this year decided on enforcement action and B&NES sent out the appropriate notice telling OPA to stop operating as a nightclub within 21 days from 7 August. 

OPA has appealed against this order and a Planning Inspector has been appointed to hear the appeal. TARA has made the following representation to the inspector.

This part of the city centre is primarily residential.  The block on which OPA is located bounded by North and South Parades and Duke Street is entirely residential containing 65 apartments in 7 apartment buildings as well as ASE (Advanced Studies in England) a residential hostel for foreign students which has operated on North Parade above the subject premises since the late 1980’s although we understand that due to the disturbance created by the nightclub ASI has had to suspend the use of rooms in the hostel.

 These premises cause significant harm and distress to local residents by reason of high levels of noise and disturbance. For some time, and on many occasions, local residents and local businesses have complained about the noise created by OPA’s operation. The noise complained of derives from extensive noise leakage from OPA’s premises and noise created by, often rowdy and intoxicated, revellers entering and leaving the building and gathering outside on the pavement to smoke.

It is perhaps useful in this context to quote the Planning Policy Guidance:

“Commercial developments such as fast food restaurants, discos, night-clubs and public houses pose particular difficulties, not least because associated activities are often at their peak in the evening and late at night. Local planning authorities will wish to bear in mind not only the noise that is generated within the premises but also the attendant problems of noise that may be made by customers in the vicinity. The disturbance that can be caused by traffic and associated car parking should not be underestimated”

OPA has effectively become a nightclub by stealth. The premises were operated as a restaurant between 1983 and 2007 without adversely affecting the amenity of local residents and this is the appropriate use for these premises.

 If the appeal is granted a precedent will be set for other bars and restaurants elsewhere in the city centre to flout planning regulations, and turn themselves into nightclubs.  This is not fair to the majority of businesses who play by the rules and show respect for the planning regulations.
TARA has no objection to OPA operating as a traditional well managed restaurant similar to many others in residential areas of the city centre.  Our objection is to OPA as a restaurant/bar and nightclub.
This appeal if granted threatens the delicate balance which exists between businesses and residents in this small and primarily residential corner of our city.