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Karl Brown was at this afternoon's Licensing Committee meeting where the future of the Fox's premises licence was on the agenda.

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Noise, from live music and other sources, had been determined a statutory nuisance for several residents in the new flats. Consequentially, Licensing Committee met this afternoon (Wednesday 7th) to determine the future of the Fox’s Premises Licence. The Licensing Authority’s initial conclusion late last year was that remedial action was not possible, meaning the Fox would very likely lose the ability to host regulated entertainment, such as live bands.

Without eroding any of their support for the rights of the impacted tenants to a quiet life, our councillor and MP were united with so many PG residents in emphasising the value and worth of the Fox to PG. Cllr Taylor and myself acted as “Other Party” respondees in the meeting, which was also attended by various officers, legal support and a full deck of parties from the pub’s side.

The site is owned by Dominvs Property Development and the pub section leased to Star Pubs & Bars Limited (part of the Heineken Group). It is in turn leased to Whelans, a family pub chain, on a traditional arm’s length brewery tied lease agreement. This means Whelans run the premises (while Star hold the premises license). Many of us will by now be familiar with their business model of a family pub, with TV sports and a wide range of live entertainment.

Star Pubs and Whelans invested a combined one million pounds or thereabouts in the fit out of the pub shell delivered by Dominvs. In session, I thanked the parties for this level of capital commitment into our community.

But this noise setback had severely impacted Whelans business model, as Mr Whelan explained to us in actual money numbers. A senior representative of Star had earlier submitted to licensing committee paperwork which included:

“Unfortunately for Mr Whelan, and I would say for ourselves and the community, he does not feel that he is able to continue at the premises. His business model does depend on him being able to carry out a degree of entertainment and to use the function room at the premises and clearly given the current state of affairs that does not seem possible. It has therefore been agreed that he will leave the premises on or around the 1 March. We are all incredibly disappointed by this outcome because as I say we believe him to be a very good operator.”

So very bad news, at least it seems. Co-managers James and Padraig had recently left us for an alternate Whelans venue, and very sad they both were.

The session went ahead in a fairly legalistic manner, concluding that while there may have been cases of noise in the street picked up by council officers, the issue before the committee was really focused on noise leakage into a small number of new-development flats.

In the end, the Licensing Authority submitted a proposed addendum to the premises licence which was then added to by the legal team acting for the pub side and, after some legal oversight while we chatted amongst ourselves, white smoke revealed a way forward everyone seemed happy with.

Briefly, the premises licence remains in place and with its hours unchanged, but a noise limiter will now be installed to cap amplified sound levels. In addition, work will proceed to identify and resolve noise leakage areas. That this can go ahead while the premises licence remains is a big win for the pub / PG. One alternate could have been the licence being removed, leaving the pub to do remedial work and then try and regain a premises licence, a much trickier route I was told.

What was not clear to me in chatting after the event is exactly what will happen next – the chance of Mr Whelan writing off his £0.5m investment and leaving felt less clear than the written submission had laid out.

Should Whelans exit, Star had confirmed a commitment to continue with the Fox through a new operator, managing it themselves pro tem as required. Already operating two thousand four hundred pubs across GB, at least it would be in experienced hands.

The specific business model of any new operator, should that happen, is an unknown. However, Star, if necessary, are committed to working through options on the noise problem, wishing to continue with a regulated entertainment option in the Fox.

The Fox is a landmark site, is locally listed, became the borough's first Asset of Community Value, and very recently was supported by over 2000 PG residents in a petition seeking the continuation of live music. (Although originator James Sharkey had apparently neglected to submit this to the authority! A gap I had fortunately filled.) The pub side had pointed out just how unusual this level of visible community support was and were hugely appreciative. That can only be a positive for their future relationship with PG via any new operator, or Whelans, if it comes to it.

From design, through planning, construction and building control, there were many steps in delivering the new Fox. What we had been told was that the construction company went bankrupt. The presented evidence, while necessary not addressing the complete picture, does draw out some particular design / build related matters, but it is not straightforward and at this stage I would suggest speculation is not a sensible route. That could always be one for the lawyers once the unknown becomes a known.

Specific adverse features were drawn out by the experts where noise can travel to the detriment of those living above.  (“Flanking” being the apparent technical term for such transmission.) These included a pillar running up from the pub into the flats and the aluminium window border features, plus other factors such as an unlined wall.The acoustic specialists will be working to identify and look to rectify such specific issues. He was positive of this being achievable, although the (acceptable) cost of same is an unknown.

Outside of the meeting I had been advised that sound can be pretty much like water and find a way through despite best endeavours. In a case such as this, where residential is so close to a noise emitter, I was told that acoustic expertise should be part of the design process. I’m not clear if that was the case with the Fox, but I could make a guess.

Finally, it would be wrong to neglect the parties in the new flats, who have clearly suffered badly through all of this. Cllr Taylor made it clear that was a major concern of his and I’m sure we’d all agree best the noise is kept inside the Fox and they can have a peaceful life, as well as a functioning pub right on their doorstep.

Anyone interested can access the paperwork for Licensing Committee:

The formal result release should be available in a day or so.

The Enfield Dispatch were in attendance and should be running a report shortly. Hopefully my own is in line.

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Darren Edgar posted a reply
08 Feb 2024 11:48
construction company went bankrupt - really? Dominus, the developer, have not bust. which was the construction company??
PGC Webmaster posted a reply
08 Feb 2024 13:09
Here's the Enfield Dispatch report that Karl refers to, by the local democracy reporter.

"A Palmers Green pub subject to noise complaints from neighbours will be able to stay open if it installs a noise limiter device, councillors have agreed."

Palmers Green pub told it can keep licence if it installs ‘noise limiter device’

Karl Brown posted a reply
08 Feb 2024 15:37
Darren Edgar is correct in saying the developing site owner, Dominvs, have not gone bankrupt, but on the other hand, no one said they had. The paperwork submitted to the committee by the Licensing Authority highlights the main building contractor having gone bankrupt. Link supplied earlier.
Neil Littman posted a reply
09 Feb 2024 15:45
I read your report and also the one by The Dispatch which mentioned that the music might continue if a noise limiter was installed. However both James and Padgraig who left were responsible for the music bookings so that could affect things and even without additional soundproofing a noise limiter (or traffic light as we used to call them) may not be much use. I have rarely seen them used in pubs and they were a feature of the working mens clubs we used to play and didn't take much volume to trip and switch the power supply off to the bands.

Also one time I was in the Fox the background music was almost as loud as a band so they would have to contend with a lot of situations. I know somebody who tried to buy an apartment above the Fox and pulled out because the soundproofing between the flats was so bad you could hear everything never mind the music downstairs!
PGC Webmaster posted a reply
10 Feb 2024 18:53
Following Wednesday's meeting of the council's licensing sub-committee, licensing team manager Ellie Green sent the following email:

Dear Bambos Charalambous MP, Cllr Taylor and Residents

Thank you to those who attended the review hearing yesterday.

I now attach a copy of the Decision Notice, from the Licensing Sub-Committee.

To sum up the outcome: additional conditions have been applied to the licence. There has been no change to the times or licensable activities – music is permitted to remain.

Yours sincerely


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Neil, you are correct, and no one saw an acoustic limiter as a complete solution, but it will, in the immediate term, mitigate the abatement notice and assist residents of the upper flats. Going alongside a limiter will be the work to identify and resolve the various soundproofing and sound limiting issues, which seem to vary from structural through to not having speakers bolted directly on to walls. Cost / benefit vs business entertainment plans of the whoever is driving things next month will doubtless be an issue, but versus the expected loss of the license altogether, where things are now is a significant improvement.  
Matthew McKinnon posted a reply
15 Feb 2024 08:05
Is there any mileage in pursuing this with the construction companies involved?

PureGym are in the same development and have had constant problems with their plumbing and toilet facilities. Is it possible this was in some ways a bit of a cheapskate build and there’s some way it could be remedied with an insurance claim?
Darren Edgar posted a reply
15 Feb 2024 09:04
Karl Brown wrote (message 7082) :

Darren Edgar is correct in saying the developing site owner, Dominvs, have not gone bankrupt, but on the other hand, no one said they had. The paperwork submitted to the committee by the Licensing Authority highlights the main building contractor having gone bankrupt. Link supplied earlier.

Can you reshare the link please? I cannot find mention of who the construction company was?
PGC Webmaster posted a reply
15 Feb 2024 12:48
I think this is what Darren's looking for (originally posted to another forum thread by Neil Littman).

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I had thought that at least The Fox is owned by a brewer (Star/Heinekin) and so they have an interest in making the pub work as it's an outlet for their beer.  What I hadn't appreciated was that the freehold of the Fox was sold to Dominus for £8,745,285 in 2020.

This worries me because a property company like Dominus is in business to get the best profit they can from their premises and is one reason why so many pubs have closed been converted, typically to shops (eg the Green Dragon).  I've no idea what the terms are in Star's lease with Dominus and when they could exit or be eased out by an increase in the cost of the lease, but it does worry me.
Adrian Day posted a reply
20 Feb 2024 13:48
I read that the construction company went into liquidation which presumably makes claiming more difficult.
Darren Edgar posted a reply
23 Feb 2024 15:47
PGC Webmaster wrote (message 7093) :

I think this is what Darren's looking for (originally posted to another forum thread by Neil Littman).

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Sadly that just shows a throw-away comment. No contractor details or comment about admin/liquidation just "bankrupt".