Reigate & Banstead Borough Council last night turned down its own licensing application for music events in Priory Park.
The council’s Greenspaces team wanted a licence for events with up to 4,999 attendees. Music, plays and films could be performed – and alcohol sold – between 10am and 10.30pm, up to ten times a year.
The idea was that outside event organisers could then rely on the council’s licence, rather than having to apply for their own each time – although a Safety Advisory Group would still need to sign-off each event.
A consultant acting for Greenspaces told the borough’s licensing committee that the aim was to hold family-friendly events, striking a balance with free use of the park.
But the committee refused the application, because of its broad scope coupled with a lack of detail.
The decision means that event organisers will have to continue to submit their own applications.
The council’s application had set out a maximum of ten music events per year, but councillors were concerned that there could in fact be two each month, for three days at a time, with both of them perhaps in the same week. On top of that, the ten-event limit would also be additional to separately licensed events.
Councillors also had concerns about the consultation process. Although a licensing officer did confirm that publicity rules had been followed, Cllr Natalie Bramhall expressed surprise that no-one had written directly to Reigate Priory School to get their views.
And a representative from Park Lane Residents Association spoke of difficulties they’d had in learning the detail of what was being proposed and the reasoning.
Cllr Jonathan Essex flagged the future lack of opportunity for residents to comment to the Safety Advisory Group, as compared with a licensing application. He wondered whether a sufficient reason had been given to remove the per-event licensing step.
The committee also heard that the Safety Advisory Group would not necessarily give residents notice of every event.
Worries were also raised about the proposed licensable area – which included football pitches and the pavilion area (though not the pavilion itself).
The consultant speaking on behalf of Greenspaces urged councillors not to focus on worst-case scenarios when looking at the issues, and highlighted protections the council could take through contractual terms, conditions, an operating schedule, and the sign-off of the Safety Advisory Group.
He also noted that the application covered less than half the park, and that the police had made no representations.
Among written comments that were received, The Reigate Society were against the application, citing the lack of an end date, and the proposal being too vague. In contrast, Reigate Business Guild commented in favour.
Noise concerns were raised, but this was not the main focus of discussions. A number of noise conditions had been agreed and set out in the papers.
Tuesday’s hearing went long into the evening, with committee chair Cllr Andrew Lynch issuing the refusal decision at around 10.15pm, after a period of deliberation by councillors behind closed doors.
Edited for style 18 April 2018