Solent fort wins bid for 24-hour drinking licence

RETREAT Spitbank Fort in the Solent has won permission for a 24-hour alcohol licence
RETREAT Spitbank Fort in the Solent has won permission for a 24-hour alcohol licence
HMS Victory and the Mary Rose Museum from the air     Picture: Shaun Roster

‘Nowhere in Europe offers everything Portsmouth does’

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SPITBANK Fort has been granted a round-the-clock alcohol licence, which will help turn it into an exclusive retreat.

The future of the empty sea fort, which was built to help protect Portsmouth Naval Base from attack in the late 19th century, has been uncertain for years.

But Portsmouth City Council has given the go-ahead for the fort’s owners Amazing Retreats to serve alcohol 24 hours a day, every day of the year, for guests staying there.

Hampshire police’s licensing officer Brian Swallow had requested on the force’s behalf that CCTV cameras should be installed at the Solent site, and Amazing Retreats agreed to place cameras at the venue’s entrance.

The firm bought the fort – one of four built under the instruction of Lord Palmerston between 1861 and 1867 – in 2009 for £1m.

It has spent the past two years, and a further £2.5m, turning the Grade II listed site into a five-star, nine-bedroomed event and conference centre.

Eighteen people will be able to stay at a time, with a conference and function space for 50 people.

Amazing Retreats hopes it will be open by November, and the firm plans to host events such as sail-in concerts, where boat owners moor alongside the fort for musical performances.

Portsmouth City Council’s licensing manager Nickii Humphries said: ‘The Licensing Act 2003 says that if there are no objections to an application, the council must approve it.

‘As police had no objection when the application was revised, the application was approved by our licensing team.’

The city council has also granted a licence for films, music, dancing and entertainment from 10am-2.30am, and late-night, non-alcoholic refreshments to be served from 11pm-5am, every day.

It will be allowed to sell alcohol from its upper bar from 10am–4pm, at pre-booked functions, and from its roof-level bar from 10am-2am.