New bar to open despite resident fears

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A ‘THEATRICAL’ drinking experience will be coming to Gunwharf Quays despite nearby residents accusing bar owners of ‘going for the jugular’ over fears of increased noise and anti-social behaviour.

Today (May 28) councillors approved the licence for The Alchemist, a new bar and restaurant that will open in the site of former Italian eatery Strada.

What The Alchemist bar and restaurant at Gunwharf Quays could look like. Picture courtesy of The Alchemist Bars & Restaurants Ltd

What The Alchemist bar and restaurant at Gunwharf Quays could look like. Picture courtesy of The Alchemist Bars & Restaurants Ltd

The chain was given permission to open until 12.30am from Sunday to Wednesday and until 1.30am between Thursday and Saturday with alcohol sales ceasing half an hour before closing and the kitchen shutting by 11pm.

But plans were heavily criticised by homeowners living across from the site, with 39 objections filed against it citing noise from the bar, anti-social behaviour and disruption caused by people leaving the venue as main concerns.

Speaking to the committee Dan Goonewardene, of Brecon House, said: 'It is pretty much a Jekyll and Hyde situation.

'In the day Gunwharf Quays is a family friendly environment but in the evening it really transforms into a drinking, shouting, brawling environment. I have been there seven years and I can say it has become worse.'

What The Alchemist bar and restaurant at Gunwharf Quays could look like. Picture courtesy of The Alchemist Bars & Restaurants Ltd

What The Alchemist bar and restaurant at Gunwharf Quays could look like. Picture courtesy of The Alchemist Bars & Restaurants Ltd

His views were shared by Graham Jenkins of Anson Court who described the stretch from nightclub Tiger Tiger to The Liquorist as a 'rat run' where revellers cause disturbance late at night.

'Residents are suffering in increased volume of noise that I would define as public nuisance,' he said.

'I passionately believe the council would be wanton and reckless to add to that problem by approving this bar.'

However, he added: 'It is not The Alchemist we are objecting to but the location. It is straight across where the residents live.'

What The Alchemist bar and restaurant at Gunwharf Quays could look like. Picture courtesy of The Alchemist Bars & Restaurants Ltd

What The Alchemist bar and restaurant at Gunwharf Quays could look like. Picture courtesy of The Alchemist Bars & Restaurants Ltd

Brecon House resident John Miller agreed. He said: 'You have seemed to have gone for the jugular. Why have you gone for the most risky location? To me it is the most controversial location.  It's right across from residents.'

But the applicants defended their proposals, stating that The Alchemist was a different kind of venue to others in the area.

Solicitor Rebecca Ingram said: 'Factors such as the type of food and drink on offer, the pricing and the environment dictate the type of customers it attracts. These customers are usually mature, aged over 25, and do not leave our premises in a noisy or disorderly manner.

'Our customers want to enjoy food and drink in a relaxed environment. About 70 per cent of the floors are taken up with tables and chairs distinguishing it from other 'fast' drinking establishments.

The inside of another branch of The Alchemist. Picture courtesy of The Alchemist Bars & Restaurants Ltd

The inside of another branch of The Alchemist. Picture courtesy of The Alchemist Bars & Restaurants Ltd

'All our cocktails are made on-site in a theatrical way, meaning they take longer to prepare than other drinks and customers like to take their time to enjoy them.'

Although the opening hours were granted committee members ruled that the first floor and ground floor terraces of The Alchemist would have to close for drinking by 10pm every night. The ground floor terrace will then used as a smoking area where customers would not be allowed to take drinks.

The inside of another branch of The Alchemist. Picture courtesy of The Alchemist Bars & Restaurants Ltd

The inside of another branch of The Alchemist. Picture courtesy of The Alchemist Bars & Restaurants Ltd