Amesbury town councillors and residents voiced mixed feelings about the proposed plan to convert the former HSBC bank building on the High Street into a weekday venue for live entertainment, theatre, cinema and live music, and a weekend cocktail bar.
A representative from Keystone Entertainment at the council meeting spoke about the licence application. During discussion, Cllr Damian Kuczera said the noise management plan included sound-proofing. The Noise Enforcement Officer would issue a warning if a problem arose over noise.
If managed as proposed, the venue would not cause an increased problem to neighbours, he suggested. Local licensed premises had reported a reduction in trade as people travelled to Salisbury in the evening.
It was noted that the bank building had been empty for a year. Cllr Rhod Allen insisted Amesbury was developing as a residential town and some residents were not in favour of the proposed licence, due to the likely increase in noise and disruption.
Supporting the view, Cllr Roger Fisher reminded councillors of discos and nightclubs in the past, and resulting problems in the town. He believed late night entertainment would be better placed on the edge of town.
Objections raised included public nuisance through disturbance when patrons leave the venue and wait for transport. Visitors to nearby hotels would be affected and bad reviews would put off potential visitors.
Possible problems of crime and disorder from likely groups of patrons, historical evidence of dark corners being used as toilets, and other people in the town in the evening feeling intimidated by intoxicated patrons and potential brawls were also aired.
A resident queried whether a late night venue could be provided at Solstice Park rather than in the middle of the town. Cllr Richard Crook reminded the council that a leisure facility was featured on the original plans for Solstice Park, and he asked if it could be resurrected.
Amesbury has a vibrant nightlife with three public houses, two hotel bars and a nightclub within the town centre. Mayor Cllr Andrew Williams raised the police/council task group, formed some years ago, which was to monitor ongoing problems of late night venues.
After the meeting, Cllr Jan Swindlehurst told Valley News that town centres, like Amesbury, were becoming populated with elderly retired residents who would not want a noisy nightlife. Cllr Swindlehurst said the large number of military families planned to return to the Plain very soon would need facilities.
The MoD should do more to provide family entertainment and sports venues, she hinted. The council resolved to object to the licence application.