Agenda item

J26 Diner, Skillet Hill Farm, Honey Lane, Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 3QU

To consider the attached report.




The three Councillors that presided over this application were Councillors M Sartin (Chairman), P Stalker and A Lion.


The Chairman introduced the Members and Officers present and outlined the procedure that would be followed for the determination of the application.


In attendance on behalf of J26 Diner were Ms S Glover (Legal Representative), Mr N Thompson (Applicant), Ms H Rogerson (Applicant) and Mr A Grimsey (Solicitor).


In attendance on behalf of the objectors were Mr R McManus (Essex Police County Licensing Officer) and Councillor B Holmes (Waltham Abbey Town Council).


Councillor H Kane and Ms A Taylor were present as observers.


(a)          Application before the Sub-Committee


The Licensing Compliance Officer, Ms H Gould introduced the application for a variation to the premises licence at J26 Diner, Skillet Hill Farm, Honey Lane, Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 3QU.


The proposed variation was as followed;


           Removal of the condition imposed on the current premises licence under Annex 2, which restricted the number of customers to 40 at any one time; and


           To increase the limit of people to 150 sitting both inside and out. 


The application had been received on the 18 March 2021 and the Operating Schedule set out conditions which were already and would be attached to the licence, if this application was granted. 


The Responsible Authorities had received a copy of the application and it had been advertised at the premises and in the local newspaper.


The authority had received one objection from Essex Police which related to the Prevention of Crime and Disorder and the Public Safety objectives and an objection from Waltham Abbey Town Council which related to the Prevention of Crime and Disorder, Public Safety and the Prevention of Public Nuisance objectives. The Essex County Fire & Rescue Service had made recommendations concerning the occupancy numbers inside the premises and that the premises should be restricted to a maximum of 60 persons at any one time (including staff and customers).


(b)          Presentation from the Applicant/Representative


Ms Glover introduced the application and highlighted that this was a permanent variation to the licence. She gave some context to the submission, advising that following this an application there was a Temporary Event Notice(TEN) application for the same premises, which had previously been refused by the Licensing Sub-Committee for health and safety concerns. It was noted that the Police had made very similar objections to that previous TEN application and the decision was being appealed.


The Sub-Committee were advised that the original application had been granted in 2010, following an appeal to the magistrates which established the principal of a licence on this premises with a capacity of 40 diners. The variation looked to increase this capacity to 150.  It was noted the fire regulations determined that inside capacity of the diner and the Fire Service had confirmed the limit of 60 persons. Therefore the proposed 150 capacity would allow the remaining capacity to be seated outside the diner. The premises was primarily a truck stop throughout the week, with the occasional one-off events held at weekends.


It was noted that both the Police and Waltham Abbey Town Council had raised objections in relation to a one-off event in August 2020, where a misunderstanding over the conditions on the licence had resulted in alcohol being served off the premises and music being played outside. The attendance of the Police on that occasion had been because of a report to them regarding illegal immigrants getting off a lorry. This had been proven not to be the case and the Police issued a warning letter in regards to the above mention issues which had been outside the premises licence. Furthermore, the Police had referred to drugs in their objection, although no evidence had been provided to support the allegations and reports of illegal raves were also incorrect. The applicant had run a number of successful events since 2019 and had previously applied for a TEN for 26 June 2021, which was currently being appealed.


The variation application being considered by the Sub-Committee had received the following objections and responses;


1.    Conflict between pedestrians and vehicles either in relation to the increased number of diners or an event being held. The concerns had been addressed within the Event Safety Plan, which stated that the movement of HGV’s would stop two hours before and after an event. Other vehicles dropping people off or parking at the event had been allocated in a different area of the site. It was noted that there had been no incidents or accidents since 2010, therefore it would not be a reason to refuse the application on a health and safety basis;

2.    The number of persons inside the premises. This had been determined by the Fire Regulations; 

3.    The creation of disorder hotspot and licensing compliance. This would be resolved by the variation;

4.    The reference to drug use. No evidence had been provided.

5.    The creation of congestion at the motorway junction. It was not expected that all 150 diners would attend at one time, but the business had grown overtime, although the site was big enough to accommodate the HGV’s ; and

6.    Not enough parking. This was not an issue because of the size of the site and for events there would be marshalling in place.


It was noted that the Police had offered to agree the conditions, but the offer had been rescinded when the TEN application had been submitted.


(c)          Questions to the Applicant/Representative


The Sub-Committee asked the following questions;


·         Would the upstairs be included in the licenced area? Yes and it would be included within the 60 capacity set out by the Fire Service;

·         Would the veranda area be included as a inside or outside area? It would be  included in the outside area and was shown within the red outline area marked on page 26 of the agenda.

·         Was the outside area outlined in the TEN application much bigger than what was being requested for the variation application? Yes.

·         Did the upstairs area have a maximum capacity? No the capacity related to the entire premises and fire risks were a matter for the Fire Authority which came under separate regulations.


The Legal Officer asked for clarification on the area which the variation application applied. It was noted that the area’s outlined in red on page 25, 26 and the whole area of the first floor on page 27 were to be included in the variation application.


(d)          Presentation from the Objector’s


Mr R McManus advised that he had been in contact with the applicant on 23 April 2021 in regards to the TEN application, following a general review of the original licence and to advise what further conditions should be added to the application to bring it up to date. Following this, he would consult with the community police to determine whether there were any other issues of concern.


He advised that the site was five-acres, predominately used in the week by HGV’s and this use reduced at weekends. It was understandable that the applicant was trying to make a more profitable business.


He informed the Sub-Committee of the following concerns;


·         The premises would become a regular meeting of groups of up to 150 people every weekend;

·         That pedestrian and vehicle use on this site was not similar to other examples, especially in relation to alcohol consumption and that the safeguards put into place for the TEN application would not be carried out for the variation application;

·         The incident referred to in August 2020 regarding drug use and illegal immigrants at the premises.


At that moment, Ms Glover interjected with a legal point stating that Mr McManus was entitled to amplify but not raise new evidence in the middle the application. Furthermore,  the applicant had asked for evidence to substantiate the claims and had not received anything before either, the applications presented to the Sub-Committee  today or at the previous TEN application.


The Legal Officer advised that if Mr McManus wanted to introduce new evidence at this late stage, it would need to be submitted to the applicant and objectors and then everyone would need to agree to the submission of new evidence. If not, then the evidence could not be included. The Sub-Committee were advised that Mr Manus comments were in relation to page 30 of the agenda and that this was not new evidence.


Mr McManus advised that he had further evidence that he had become aware of this morning, but both the applicant and Sub-Committee agreed that it was too late to except any new information at this stage in the proceedings, particularly as it was in relation to the same allegations mentioned at the previous TEN application in March 2021. Therefore the Sub-Committee agreed that any new information would not be submitted or taken into consideration.


Councillor Holmes presented Waltham Abbey Town Council objections as follows;

·         There were concerns about the large car park attracting anti-social behaviour;

·         that currently lorries queued to enter the site which blocked pavements; and

·         access to the motorway and bus stops were being blocked by HGV’s in the area because of the diner.


The Legal Officer advised that evidence was required to support any statements made by the objectors that were either made in writing or verbally reported at the meeting. 


(e)          Questions to the Objectors


The Sub-Committee made the following comments regarding Mr McManus presentation;


·         Mr Manus had advised the Sub-Committee that applicant had stated there had been no drug use on the site but what Ms Glover had actually said was that there had been no evidence provided to confirm this statement;

·         The word ‘clear’ had been added when referring to the Police report about drug use, which was not in police email included in the agenda.


Comments made by the Applicant/Representative


Ms Glover advised that premises could evolve from what it originally had been licensed for, as long as it had been done in the proper manner. The applicant had invested in the business by undertaking professional advice and legal representation for the applications and there were no reasons for the safety measures set out in the TEN application not to be used in the variation application. It was also pointed out applicant had no intention of hold events every weekend and if previous events had been  managed successfully there was no reason to believe there would be issues going forward.


Ms Glover commented that it was for the applicant to mitigation dangers on the site and for both drivers and pedestrians to be responsible for their own behaviour.


(f)           Closing Statements from the Applicant/Representative


Ms Glover pointed out there was a difference between the day to day operation of the diner and a weekend event. She commented that the Police had not pursued the allegations of the incident in August 2020 and no evidence had be produced before this meeting. It was pointed out that if any issues did occur, then the licence could be reviewed, and this could be enacted by residents, members or other relevant authorities.


(g)          Further Questions from the Sub-Committee


The Sub-Committee asked the following further questions;


·         Would the attendees be dancing at the events; and as mentioned in the TEN application, would all HGV movements for other events held under the variation application be stopped two hours before and after the event as well? Ms Glover advised that if required, following the event on 26 June 2021 she could see no reason why these measurements would not be used for future events. The applicant advised that the 150 capacity was intended for the regular business Monday- Thursday, due to the increased demand. Other events would be separated from this activity and the movement of HGV vehicles at the weekend did not normally occur. It was noted that the purpose of the variation application was solely for the day to day activity for the truck stop.

·         Concerns had been raised regarding the risk assessment; that the licensing hours did not included the weekends; prevention of underage drinking and the challenge 25 requirements. The Chairman advised on page 22 of the agenda, it clarified the protection of children from harm and that photographic evidence would be required. Ms Glover advised that the application was a variation, therefore all the previous conditions and policies would apply to this application in conjunction with any new conditions imposed.

·         Should a condition be added to reduce the outside capacity so the total onsite would be 150 people. Ms Glover advised that this was not necessary because the outside area would be restricted by the amount of seating that could be provided.


(h)          Consideration of the Application by the Sub-Committee


The Chairman advised that the Sub-Committee would go into private deliberations to consider the application. During their deliberations the Sub-Committee received no further advice from the Legal Officer present. The Sub-Committee noted all of the submissions and representations, both oral and written which had been made in relation to the application and considered what was appropriate to promote the four licensing  objectives and the relevant parts of the Council’s Licensing Policy and the Home Office’s guidance.




That the application to vary the premises licence in respect of  J26 Diner, Skillet Hill Farm, Honey Lane, Waltham Abbey, Essex EN9 3QU be GRANTED  subject to the following conditions which in the opinion of this Sub Committee were reasonable, proportionate and in the public interest for the promotion of the licensing objectives:



1.             Subject to the existing conditions on the licence with the variation to the number of people from 40 to 150 together with the additional steps to support the four licensing objectives as set out in section M on page 21 of the agenda.


The applicants and the objectors were reminded of their right of appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of date of the written notification of this decision.



Supporting documents: