Living Ventures’ Alchemist bar refused a licence in 'saturation zone'

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

Saturation zone: councillors refuse to grant the Alchemist a licence
Saturation zone: councillors refuse to grant the Alchemist a licence

Related tags Nottingham city council License

At a licensing meeting on 4 April, councillors refused an application by Living Ventures to bring its bar the Alchemist to Pelham Street, Nottingham.

The cocktail bar, which has venues in London, Birmingham and Liverpool, prides itself on being “masters of the dark arts of molecular mixology and demons in the kitchen”.

However, their magic failed to convince Nottingham City Council, who said the company failed to show “exceptional circumstances” in breaking the city’s 'saturation zone'.

Councillor Brian Grocock, chair of the licensing panel, said: “Nottingham City Council has a saturation zone policy in place to protect the safety of residents and visitors enjoying the city's thriving night-time economy and to address any cumulative impact from the number of licensed premises in the city centre.

"It is standard policy to refuse licenses in this zone, unless they can prove they have exceptional circumstances. This wasn’t proven in relation to this application, therefore a decision was made to refuse it.”

Late-night levy

The council introduced a levy in November 2014 in a bid to help fund the cost of policing the late-night economy. The fee applied to premises permitted to supply alcohol between midnight and 6am.

A freedom of information request by the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​’s legal specialist Poppleston Allen last year asked for details on the levy’s impact in the year following its introduction, comparing the information provided against what was proposed by the council.

The council estimated that the gross revenue raised from the levy in its first year would be £446,000. The actual amount raised was £294,834 – 34% less than forecast. Greater administrative costs than originally expected reduced this figure by a further £65,000.

The primary reason for the drop in revenue compared to initial estimated figures was due to the lower than expected number of premises that paid the levy.

Alchemist history

The group opened the original site under the ‘cocktail bar with full service restaurant’ format in Manchester’s Spinningfields at the end of 2010.

In 2012, it said it had hoped to open 15 sites by 2017.

Living Ventures has been contacted for a comment but did not respond before The Morning Advertiser​ went to press.

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