Stevenage bar venue with troubled history gets new licence

A retro-pop bar opening at a venue that has a troubled history has been told it can only serve alcohol to punters aged at least 21.

Lounge 72 in Stevenage Old Town opened in summer 2021 but the council took away the bar's licence in May.

In early 2023, councillors heard there had been sex acts in the garden, a stabbing and a 100-person brawl.

The new bar owner has been granted a licence, but can only serve alcohol until 01:00 at weekends.

Councillors took away the Lounge 72's licence after objectors described there to be "indecency, noise and even crime", reported the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Dejan Radak applied for a new music, dance and alcohol licence for the venue, on the corner of Rookery Yard and the High Street, and his solicitor Jeremy Woodcraft told Stevenage Borough Council's licensing committee that his client was not involved with the former owner or the building's past.

The new owner applied for a licence to serve alcohol at the venue between 11:00 and 03:00 daily and wanted permission to play music between 08:00 and 03:00.

'Different sort of audience'

In a written submission, a Hertfordshire Constabulary spokesperson said: "The timings requested are not conducive to the night-time economy of Stevenage High Street at this time, as there are currently two large premises open until 03:00 and there is not capacity to have a further late night licence in the High Street."

Barrister Philip Kolvin KC, was representing the High Street's Cinnabar, urged councillors to turn down the licensing application.

He said the shut-down former occupier "attracted a different sort of audience that was coming into Stevenage for a night... my client is keen to see that audience is not attracted back".

Mr Woodcraft said the new retro bar "will be aimed at a more mature market".

"This is something Mr Radak has a great deal of experience in," Mr Woodcraft added.

He said music "from the 70s, 80s and 90s… would attract those of a more mature disposition".

The panel, chaired by Labour councillor Claire Parris, agreed to grant the licence with restrictions:

  • the restaurant area can serve alcohol daily between 11:00 and 23:00

  • the bar area can serve alcohol between 19:00 and midnight Sundays until Wednesdays, and between 19:00 and 01:00 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays

  • events must wind up by 00:30 on Sundays until Wednesdays, and by 01.30 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays

"After an initial period, the applicant might consider applying to extend the licence hours," Ms Parris said.

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