City dwellers who are disturbed by 'party venues' sprouting up around them can take comfort from a guideline High Court decision which reinforced the powers of local authorities to quell noise nuisance and late night drinking.
A restaurateur had turned his premises into a drinking establishment and nightclub without obtaining planning consent. The local authority's response was to issue an enforcement notice requiring him to cease both unauthorised uses. Disc jockeys were also banned from performing on the premises.
The council stated that the restaurant's transformation into a party venue had led to increased noise, vibration and disturbance and harmed the amenity of local residents. The notice was subsequently upheld by a government planning inspector following a public enquiry.
In challenging the latter decision, the restaurateur argued that the requirements of the notice were excessive and threatened the viability of his business. He pointed out that the premises were already licensed to sell alcohol, with food, until 2:00am, and suggested that the number of non-dining drinkers should be limited to 60 at any one time. The ban on disc jockeys also served no useful purpose as there was no restriction on recorded music being played on the premises.
In dismissing the appeal, however, the Court found that the inspector's power to water down the requirements of the notice was strictly limited. Whilst accepting that the purpose of such notices must be remedial, rather than punitive, the Court found that the inspector was entitled to decline to consider the restaurateur's arguments on their merits.