Tesco has been granted permission to sell alcohol from a new store in Cardiff’s city centre, despite the fact it is within the council’s controversial saturation zone.
The supermarket giant is planing to open a new Tesco Metro branch in the former Virgin Mega Store at the Capitol Shopping Centre, and applied to Cardiff Council for permission to sell alcohol from the store.
The bid was opposed by South Wales Police because the branch will be within the Churchill Way saturation zone, but the authority’s licensing sub committee this morning agreed to grant the application, saying conditions agreed by Tesco meant it was unlikely to have a negative effect.
South Wales Police’s licensing officer Tony Bowley told councillors that police objected to the proposal because there are already 11 premises that sell alcohol on Churchill Way, and there are incidents of violent crime in the area, including 37 recorded incidents in 2010/2011.
He said: “Compared to St Mary Street or Greyfriars Road these incidents are small, but there is anti-social behaviour and crime and disorder.
“The more availability of alcohol there is, the link to crime and disorder can’t really be argued against.”
But Jeremy Bark, acting for Tesco, said the 9,500 square foot store – which will create 100 jobs – would not be an off-licence where people were just coming in to buy alcohol.
He said alcohol products would make up just 200 out of 20,000 products in the branch, and the store’s opening hours of 8am to 8pm were outside the “peak times” associated with late night incidents.
Although the police had made an objection, Mr Bark said “this is not a case where the police are going in heavy”.
He added: “They have not produced lots of statistics. We have an excellent relationship with the police generally, and in Cardiff.”
Mr Bark added Tesco had agreed to conditions on the licence that meant there would be CCTV on the premises, no beer or cider sold with an alcohol content of more than 5.5%, and no one carrying alcohol will be allowed into the premises.
No alcohol will be displayed within four metres of the store entrance, there will be no locally-devised promotions, at least three licence holders within the store and a “challenge 25” policy will operate in the branch.
On major event days, and other occasions when Churchill Way is closed, the store will not sell any booze in glass containers except as part of a “meal deal”, and customers will not be able to buy more than four individual units of beer or cider.
Mr Bark said: “We are an excellent operator, this is an excellent application on the terms of the policy. We submit it won’t cause problems, and that putting Tesco there will be a great benefit to the area as a whole.”
Committee chairman Coun Bill Kelloway said applications for licences in the saturation zone are usually refused.
But he added: “However, having considered the evidence today and also taking into account the reputation of the applicants and the range of conditions offered by them, we feel that the application on this occasion would not have a negative effect.”
The committee’s decision will come as welcome news to the owners of the Capitol Shopping Centre, who warned earlier in the week that a refusal to grant the licence could see plans to open the store collapse altogether.
Capitol has suffered due to difficult market conditions and competition from St Davids, losing tenants and footfall.
Alcohol licence granted for new Cathays coffee shop
A new café in Cathays was also given permission to sell alcohol at today’s meeting of Cardiff Council’s licensing sub-committee.
Lewis Tucker applied for a licence to sell alcohol from his recently opened coffee shop, Tucker, on 23 Sailsbury Road between 11am and 10.30pm seven days a week.
The committee received one objection from a local resident, who complained another premises selling alcohol would add “once again to the disorder, noise and public nuisance this road already deals with”.
But Mr Tucker told councillors on the licensing sub-committee that the café, which was formerly a furniture store, was trying to provide an up-market alternative to other food and drink outlets in the area with a European-style coffee shop.
He said: “I’m trying to provide something a little bit more up market and grown up, and less greasy spoon, Jager bombs and cheap shots.”
Mr Tucker added that he was hoping to appeal to local workers and people going to performances at the recently renovated Sherman Cymru theatre.
Mr Tucker said the café had CCTV fitted, would operate a Challenge 21 policy, have a “no drunk” policy and offer free water at all times.
The committee granted the licence.