Popular hotel has licence bid denied

A WELL-KNOWN hotel and conference centre has failed in its bid to extend its alcohol licensing hours following objections from residents on Hook Heath Road.

The De Vere hotel and conference centre on Gorse Hill applied to Woking Borough Council to extend its licensing hours from 11pm to 2am seven nights of the week.

De Vere also sought to have a number of restrictions removed from their licence, which would have allowed the hotel to serve alcohol to those not staying or attending a function at the hotel.

However, the proposals ran into a storm of protest, with more than 40 letters of objection received by the council’s licensing department.

A meeting of the licensing sub-committee on Monday, November 4 at the HG Wells Centre saw residents gather to express their concerns.

Most objections centred on perceived antisocial behaviour and noise disturbance from people leaving the De Vere late at night.

Residents complained about incidents of guests vomiting and urinating on Hook Heath Road after closing time, as well as shouting and arguing in the car park, and thefts from neighbouring gardens and driveways.

Passions were high during the meeting, with licensing committee chairman Councillor Carl Thomson having to warn members of the Hook Heath Residents’ Association against interrupting and shouting down De Vere’s general manager, Ben Bridgeman.

Mr Bridgeman noted that no objection to the extension of alcohol hours had been received by Surrey Police or Woking Borough Council’s environmental health department, and said he was surprised by the scale of objection to the plans.

He told the committee that De Vere had not received any complaints about antisocial behaviour from Hook Heath residents and said he only became aware of an issue on
seeing the large number of objections to the application.

After a lengthy hearing, which included representations from Woking MP Jonathan Lord (left) and ward representative Cllr Graham Cundy, the sub-committee decided to retain the restrictions on the licence and limit the increase in alcohol hours to 11pm during the week, and midnight at the weekend.

Cllr Thomson explained: “We do not feel that there is an issue with the need to prevent crime and disorder and protect public safety, but we feel there is an issue with the licensing objective of preventing public nuisance.

“It is our decision that the conditions set out in the officer’s report should remain in force, while we will only be extending the alcohol and late-night re-freshment licence by one hour, until midnight between Thursday and Saturday.”

Cllr Thomson told those present that he would like to see greater dialogue between De Vere and Hook Heath Residents’ Association, so that any problems concerning disruption and antisocial behaviour could be resolved amicably in future.

However, he warned: “If there are further problems with disturbances and antisocial be-haviour, they should be reported to the police or to the council’s environmental health officers, since that will help to inform
any future decisions concerning this venue.”










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