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Christchurch town quay and Quomps 'worrying, frightening and anxious place to live' says resident objecting to Boathouse off-sales proposal

AREAS of Christchurch around the quay and Quomps have become “a worrying, frightening and anxious place to live” according to a resident objecting to a restaurant's proposal.

And the town's deputy mayor Cllr Avril Coulton, who lives in the area, has also complained of rowdy behaviour, sleepless nights and people urinating against the wall of her property, writes Trevor Bevins of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The comments come in opposition to a proposal to make takeaway sales at the Boathouse in Quay Road a permanent fixture, although there is no direct evidence to link the anti-social behaviour problems to the business.

Cllr Avril Coulton, who lives in the area, has complained of rowdy behaviour, sleepless nights and people urinating against the wall of her property (picture: Google)
Cllr Avril Coulton, who lives in the area, has complained of rowdy behaviour, sleepless nights and people urinating against the wall of her property (picture: Google)

Off-sales were granted last year on a temporary basis because of the pandemic – which the Boathouse now wants to make permanent by varying its licence.

The proposed change has led to around 20 objections, including from the town council. Their concerns include fears of increased anti-social behaviour and litter.

The Boathouse says that its staff have helped clean up litter in the area both before and after trading, wherever it comes from, and adds that its customers would welcome the continuation of being able to buy alcohol and food to take away.

A BCP licensing panel on 21st July will be told that none of the formal consultees, including the police, public health, trading standards and environmental services have raised an objection to the licence change.

A letter from solicitors in support of the Boathouse says: “These premises have operated for many years under the same experienced operator and, following government guidance during the coronavirus pandemic… have been able to provide takeaway and off-sales facilities during this period. This facility has been most welcome and appreciated by customers who have expressed a wish that it continues once the pandemic restrictions come to an end.

“During the past year the Boathouse operator and staff have been exceptionally socially responsible by taking steps well above its legal duties in assisting by clearing litter from any source in the Quay area both during and after trading and without this operation the litter left in this area generally would inevitably be far greater.”

An objection letter from one resident to the licensing panel says that during lockdown anti-social behaviour in and around the Quomps has increased – often fuelled by alcohol.

“The Quomps is a designated public space, within a conservation area and confirmed greenbelt, which is enjoyed by all members of the community. It is usually a relatively quiet, peaceful and safe place to be and enjoy and promotes its Green Flag status. However, our experience of the off-premises alcohol sales has made the Quomps a worrying, frightening and anxious place to live. We believe alcohol is the catalyst for the vast majority of the unacceptable occurrences and strongly object to the above licence variation being extended.”

Others have written to the panel about vandalism, litter and graffiti and people urinating, and worse, in public: “It is totally unnecessary for alcohol to be sold for consumption other than with a meal onsite and in my opinion will result in a drain on our valuable emergency services who are obligated to attend any disturbances,” said one letter writer.

Among the objectors is deputy mayor of Christchurch, Cllr Avril Coulton, a neighbour of The Boathouse, who says because there are no nearby public toilets open late, people urinate against her wall and inside the nearby public shelter and bandstand.

She has produced a list of what she says are several nights of disturbed sleep caused by music and bright lights at The Boathouse.

Cllr Coulton claims that off-sales will only encourage the indiscriminate use of alcohol and increase disorderly behaviour in the area.

“This is not a suitable area for off-sales. The Quomps are to be enjoyed by all – dog walkers, children, and the elderly; alcohol can be served inside the licensed premises of the Boathouse. Please do not allow a beautiful spot to become a place of antisocial behaviour,” she said.

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