TOUGHER rules on new pubs and bars are set to be extended across the centre of York after police said the city cannot take any more licensed premises.
Back Swinegate, Fossgate and Goodramgate are set to be included within a larger Cumulative Impact Zone (CIZ), where the likely impact on crime and antisocial behaviour must be assessed before applications can be granted.
The move, to be considered by City of York Council next week, would make it harder for firms to secure new licences or longer opening hours.
The extension has been requested by North Yorkshire Police, whose licensing officer PC Mick Wilkinson said the city had enough bars.
Guildhall councillor Brian Watson said too many licences had been approved in the Back Swinegate area, the scene of 215 crimes and 177 antisocial behaviour incidents last year, and mistakes should not be repeated elsewhere.
The proposals will be discussed by the council’s gambling, licensing and regulatory committee next Monday, before being put to all councillors.
More than fifty interested parties and all York’s licensed premises were consulted, but only one response was received. A report on a recent licensing application in Fossgate said violent crime and antisocial behaviour had not risen there in the past three years.
PC Wilkinson said: “It’s future-proofing – the police believe York now has enough late-night venues, and it is the police who deal with crime and disorder in the city centre.
“Each licence application is assessed on its individual merits and the council makes the decision. However, an expanded Cumulative Impact Zone gives police the chance to say enough is enough, to object on those grounds, and for applications to be considered in the context of the overall impact on the city-centre.”
Coun Watson said an extended zone would be “too late” for Back Swinegate, but added: “If we don’t get a grip on this, exactly the same thing will happen in Fossgate, where anything which becomes empty is turned into a bar or restaurant.
“We have to look to the future. York has good-quality licensed premises, but there are now too many of them.”
Areas within the existing Cumulative Impact Zone include Micklegate, George Hudson Street, Bridge Street, Coney Street, Blake Street and Davygate. Paul Gardner, who runs The Terrace on Fossgate, said expanding it would not address people drinking at home before going into the city centre, where they may be refused entry.
“There is no happy medium, and I’d also rather have people employed than buildings being empty – with so much out-of-town shopping, the city centre needs something else,” he said.
Lesley Cooke, the council’s licensing manager, said any consultation feedback would be added to the police’s formal request for the zone’s extension, which was “evidence-based on crime and disorder statistics”.