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To confirm the procedure for the hearing (attached).
The procedure for the meeting was noted.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members are asked to declare any interests in matters for consideration at the meeting.
There were no declarations of interest.
To hear and determine an opposed application for a new premises licence. The proposed premises licence application is to cover the gardens and its buildings for a variety of licensable activities.
Report of the Head of Consumer Protection attached.
Participating in this item were:
Professor Hopper began by informing the sub-committee of Kew Gardens’ history and giving details of its current operations and interests. He told the committee that Kew Gardens had submitted this application, as it was facing increased financial pressures to maintain its levels of research and to become financially self-sustaining.
Professor Hopper said that he valued residents’ opinions and appreciated that most members lived in the local area. He added that there had been a lot of effort to involve the local community in Kew Gardens’ affairs, including consultation with households and the Kew Society, open events explaining plans and assurances that Kew Gardens took concern seriously. He believed that there was a generally good relationship with residents at the Kew Society.
Elizabeth Southorn introduced the application and confirmed what it was Kew Gardens was applying for. She added that the existing licence was confusing for staff and difficult to manage, as it wasn’t always clear what activities were permissible and where. Ms Southorn said that there appeared to be some confusion amongst residents. She stated that the sound and traffic management plans would be part of a new licence, meaning that amendments could only be changed with the consent of the council and responsible authorities.
Ms Southorn added that the proposed conditions to specifically address crime and disorder applied to all events, regardless of their size. She stated that the police and local authority were not objecting to the application. There were also concerns around the enforceability of a new licence, but this would not be an issue as it could be enforced under Section 136 of the Licensing Act, which meant sizeable fines and prison sentences could be imposed for breaching licence conditions.
Ms Southorn reported that there were an average of 12 complaints relating to events received by RBG Kew each year. This meant that there was general satisfaction on how events were managed.
The sound and traffic management plans had been prepared by reputable companies, both of which had significant experience in their respective areas; the traffic management company had been responsible for events with attendances up to 250k people. It was intended that these be ‘live’ documents, subject to improvements over time, with the local authority and police’s agreement. Larger events would be subject to procedures set out in the ‘Pop’ code.
Ms Southorn assured residents that RBG Kew were willing to communicate with residents in the surrounding areas, well in advance of large events. They were also willing to write to the local authority and police, three months in advance of a large event.
There was also concern about new venues not being suitable for the types of events RBG Kew were proposing, but Ms Southorn Said that their plans were scalable and able to adapt to the limitations of each venue on the site. Risk assessments would also be carried out for each new venue on the site.
In response to concerns that had been raised about fireworks, Ms Southorn stated that she could not find mention to a limit on the number, and duration, of fireworks displays. This meant that RBG Kew could have firework displays every night of the week. They were however not seeking this, and therefore would be happy to restrict the number of displays to 8 per year.
It was reported that RBG Kew were seeking an increased capacity of 9999 in order to attract more famous and influential artists, who commanded larger audiences. This was being applied for now, as such entertainers were often booked well in advance.
The traffic management would involve ‘dynamic’ signage, where signs could be changed to direct traffic to other routes and parking locations. The parking locations included one on the Brentford side of the site, plus the Old Deer car park. It was confirmed that RBG Kew were looking at various options to organise parking on-site. There would also be a tried and tested method employed at the Victoria Gate, involving wardens and a ‘stop/go’ system. There would also be restricted access to some of the nearby residential streets.
Following questions from members of the sub-committee, the meeting was advised that:
Mr Michael Glazebrook, on behalf of the Kew Society, began by saying that he appreciated the positive relation that he and the Kew Society had with RBG Kew and he emphasised that they were not requesting that the Gardens hold no events. He added that the current 89 conditions on the current licence had been deemed necessary at the hearing in 2005. Mr Glazebrook said he felt that the current level of activities were of an acceptable level now, as the situation was tolerable and any more would mean it wasn’t.
The Kew Society was concerned that there was no space between the performance areas and the housing and they believed that there was a limit imposed on the duration and number of fireworks displays. Mr Glazebrook suggested that RBG Kew were obliged to look at parking as a result of the previous licence being granted, but this did not appear to have happened. There were also concerns about various conditions being consumed by plans, which he believed would make enforcement difficult.
The Kew Society also felt that there was a significant increase in annual event capacity from 36k people to 120k. There was also concern as to the potential number of private events, which RBG Kew were applying to increase to an unlimited number. Mr Glazebrook drew attention to the fact that the Planning Committee refused an application for the erection of Marquees for an extended period and he believed they were both unsightly and failed to contain noise.
Mr Glazebrook suggested that the traffic management plan would not be able to cope with up to 10,000 people attending; The Orangery was 2.7km away from any car park, which meant visitors would be parking in surrounding areas. The travel survey also indicated that 24% of visitors travelled by car, but Mr Glazebrook said this was not proven, particularly when public transport might be crowded due to large numbers of people travelling at the same time.
Mr David Trevor Jones, on behalf of the sound management consultants, said that modelling of the site to predict how the sound would travel had been carried out. He stated that this was an accurate way in which to predict the effects on surrounding areas and assess where suitable monitoring positions should be placed. He added that plans would be drawn up for each new site, but suggested that some that were nearer the centre of the gardens would mean a reduction in disturbances to residents.
Sgt David George of the Borough Police’s licensing department said that they originally objected to the application as they felt the traffic management plan required further work. Sgt George conceded that the plan being presented now was acceptable as it addressed various concerns the police had. He added that the police were planning on withdrawing the support for events that they were providing free of charge, as it was no longer sustainable given current budgetary constraints.
Sgt George reassured residents that although the police would not be managing visitors, they would still be assisting with any public order offences. He outlined various areas of the plan that could be looked at in the future such as having a waiting area to the north side of the site. Sgt George said that parking outside residents’ houses in itself was not a public nuisance, but gave assurances that inconsiderate parking was.
Mr Martin Cross said that he felt Richmond upon Thames was a special case when considering applications that result in more night time noise because of the aircraft disruption related to Heathrow Airport. He said that if noise from RBG Kew ceased at around 1.30am and early morning flights commenced at 4.30am, residents would be unable to sleep. He added that he supported the Kew Society’s views.
Mr Stephen Speak said that he was representing the local neighbourhood watch group and shared similar views to the Kew Society. Mr Speak raised concerns about drunken behaviour including vomiting and broken bottles and believed that nothing in the application addressed this problem. Mr Speak also raised the chargeable times at the Old Deer car park; parking was charged for up until 6.30pm, but events at Kew typically began at 6.00pm.
Ms Nickola Savage stated that the issue of broken glass could be addressed by widening radius for post event cleaning. She also added that staff paid for by RBG Kew would be in the area after events, which would reduce noise from visitors leaving. It was clarified that the Brentford Gate car park would used first, with traffic being redirected to Old Deer car park when it was full.
Mr Michael Fletcher was concerned about a lack of clarity in the traffic management plan and felt that not having police officers after events would increase public disorder. He added that the reason for the low level of complaints was possibly due to residents knowing when events were happening and making plans to not be in the area at the time. The traffic calculations did not take account of taxis.
Sgt Davis stated that crime and disorder was taking place, the police would be on hand to assist. Staff employed by RBG Kew would be there to assist the safe passage of patrons.
Ms Savage said that taxis were able to use a drop off bay.
Ms Clarissa Gornall supported the views of the Kew Society. She raised a concern about noise generated by the testing of sound equipment from around 3.00pm until events start.
Mr Jones agreed that this was an issue he could understand and he would not rule out the introduction of measures to restrict this in the future.
Mr Peter Jenkins accepted that a mail drop informing residents within the locality of the Gardens would be useful, although he did not feel that RBG Kew would co-operate fully with this. He cited the example of the Licensing Sub-Committee meeting only being advertised on the perimeter wall using small blue signs.
Ms Southorn confirmed the steps RBG Kew had taken to advertise the application. She said that 38 statutory notices had been displayed at the site and had been there for a significant amount of time (since the initial application in October 2010). Further white notices were displayed next to each blue notice, offering residents the opportunity to discuss the application with staff at Kew. There had been a statutory advertisement in the local newspaper, plus additional coverage for the Kew Society on the matter, along with a number of public meetings. Ms Southorn stated that RBG Kew had been very accommodating to residents.
Mr David M Edwards said that the current levels of amplification were tolerable for a period of one week in the year and did not wish to extend this any further. He also said that the sound was often erratic and appeared to be affected by wind conditions.
Mr Jones said RBG Kew staff would be monitoring noise at the Garden boundary, using the measure of “if they can hear it, it’s too loud”. It was also reported that sound carriage could be affected by atmospheric conditions that could not be predicted.
Mr Richard Gillingwater felt that it was reasonable to expect RBG Kew to write to residents within a defined area. Mr Gillingwater questioned whether the process being followed was correct, citing that there appeared to be negotiating with conditions. He added that as part of the negotiations, the agreed figure of visitors was set at 36,000, but now it was proposed this would be set at 120,000.
Mr Gillingwater said that as part of the traffic management plan, it was expected that 5 – 7,000 people would be using Lichfield Road to get back to Kew Gardens station, suggesting that it was small roads such as this that suffered from disorderly behaviour.
Mr Gillingwater also felt that additional consideration needed to be given to the site’s security during larger scale events, such as bag checks.
Sgt George said the plans that RBG Kew were proposing were comprehensive and stated that bag checking was never going to be totally effective. He confirmed that counter-terrorism officers had also approved the plans. Sgt George re-emphasised that officers would still be addressing reports of public disorder, with RBG Kew staff seeing to the safe egress of patrons.
Ms Savage said that staff outside the venue would be in constant contact with the central control room, who would have active communications with the police. She believed that this additional staffing resource would alleviate some of the concerns that residents were raising. It was reported that the Kew Gardens Constabulary had no powers outside of the site. The traffic management plan was significantly different and the sound management plan has been subject to slight improvements.
Mr Victor Hadrys said that he supported the previous speakers and the representations made by the Kew Society. He believed the levels of objections would increase if staff in RBG Kew knew which manager to refer complaints to. Old Deer car park was not suitable, given that it was a significant distance from the site.
Ms Savage said that there were regular staff briefings hosted by directors, where any concerns raised by residents could be discussed. She added that over 250 residents attended on two evenings, where they were informed of the staff who could be contacted if there were any issues on event nights. It was reported that the distance to the Old Deer car park was almost the same as that to Kew Bridge station, which many patrons used to access the site.
Ms Dee Cook queried why 500m was deemed an appropriate distance for the mail drop informing residents for events, when she lived more than 500m away from the site, yet could still hear events. She was also concerned about an exception being made for New Year’s events and believed there was a limit on fireworks displays.
Mr Jones said that he had not been involved in setting the 500m distance, but stated that it was unlikely sound would ordinarily travel much beyond that, although ‘fluke’ atmospheric conditions could mean that sometimes it might.
Ms Southorn confirmed that RBG Kew had never received complaints about New Year’s events, stating that those involved were shocked at the high number of objections that had been received. She said that if the sub-committee felt this was a concern, RBG Kew would be willing to accept restrictions on New Year’s Eve events.
Mr Giles Dixon said that he agreed with the representations being made by the Kew Society. He was also concerned about the ‘open ended’ approach of the application, with no restrictions being sought for private events. He said the use of a marquee at the site was unsightly, stating longer term marquees were rejected by the Planning Committee. There were also issues of patrons continuing their outdoor celebrations on Kew Green, once RBG Kew had closed and asked them to leave. It was also felt that the late night opening would change the type of visitor to Kew Gardens.
Mr Glazebrook was elected by other interested parties to sum up their points of view. He said that this was clearly an emotive issue with a large number of concerns being submitted from a wide variety of residents. He felt that the overall application was flawed, particularly its structure and nature. He said that it was possible to condition adequate plans, but the ones before the sub-committee were not were not adequate. He stated that residents wanted a complete and negotiated set of conditions to look at, not a series of concessions made at a meeting. He also believed that what was being applied for was excessive and did not respect the local community. Mr Glazebrook concluded by asking the sub-committee to reject the application as it would not be enforceable, even is using Section 136 of the Licensing Act.
Ms Southorn made a closing statement on behalf of the applicant. She said that the application and plans had been subject to a great deal of care and negotiation, with a large degree of helpful advice from responsible authorities. She stated that the cost of working to the conditions residents were requesting made holding any events prohibitively expensive for RBG Kew and not necessary. It was reported that RBG Kew were planning events with a capacity of 8000 this year, with a view to establishing another venue at the site with a capacity of 9,999.
She confirmed that the police and local authority were supportive of moving the events site to another lawn area within Kew as it was further from residential properties. She said that conditioning two plans was robust and enforceable, especially as removal and alteration of either plan would require the agreement of the police and council. Ms Southorn said that Kew were willing to limit the number of private events with over 1000 attendees to 6 per year
The sub-committee retired to consider the points raised during the meeting.
RESOLVED that the sub-committee grant the premises licence, subject to the conditions as set out in the attached decision notice.
The REASONS for the decision were:
The Licensing Sub-Committee considered that the various amendments of the conditions proposed and the imposition of conditions to address concerns relating to crime and disorder and public nuisance, were proportionate and necessary to promote the licensing objectives as required by the Licensing Act 2003, its Regulations, Guidance and case law.
Updated: 27 March 2014