OLD Portsmouth’s historic Square Tower has been granted an alcohol licence despite the objections of neighbours.
The 518-year-old fortified building, in Broad Street, is leased and managed by local businessman Stephen Hender who uses it to host a variety of events.
He has now been granted permission to stage plays, films, live music and serve alcoholic drinks from 9am to 10pm, seven days a week.
But some residents were concerned that the new licence could cause noise and disturbances in the area, and feared it could be dangerous if guests took glasses onto the roof and accidently dropped them off.
To prevent this Portsmouth City Council’s licensing sub-committee applied a condition that no drinks are allowed to be taken out on top of the tower.
Presenting his case, Mr Hender described the tower as a beautiful building which he was very passionate about.
‘It is an amazing building,’ he said. ‘And it is a great privilege for me to have the chance to run it.
‘My intention for the tower is to create a special venue for special events in the city.
‘But it is a very expensive building to heat and maintain, so I need to make sure the business is viable in the long term.
‘So this is part of my objective. I’m aware that it is an important building for the city and it is in a residential area and I mustn’t do things that cause mess or nuisance to the surrounding area.
‘It is my hope that in having a licence that I will be able to control what goes on in there more completely.’
He added that the tower would not be used for ‘boozy’ wedding receptions and the 10pm finish should help discourage anyone looking for that kind of event.
Tory chairman of the committee Ken Ellcome said they agreed that Mr Hender would have more control over the premises if he was the licensee.
‘At the moment people have to bring their own drinks to things like wedding receptions,’ he said. ‘And we think now he will be able to stop people if they’ve had too much to drink.’
Jean Howe, 58, of High Street, Old Portsmouth, said she had been concerned about the application but would give it the benefit of the doubt.
‘It is professionally-run at present,’ she said. ‘So hopefully granting an alcohol licence won’t change that.’