NEW life will be breathed into the fire-damaged Regent cinema building at Lyme Regis with the opening of a vodka bar and sales area.

A drinks licence has been approved for the foyer of the building for local company, Black Cow Vodka, which also intends to open an adjoining sales area.

A 42-square metre decking area for sitting out has already been added to the front of the building although without planning consent.

The application for a full premises licence had attracted objections, but also letters from those in support.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

Dorset councillors decided in favour of the licence which will allow the sale of alcohol every day until 11pm with the ability to have live and recorded music.

The application for the Broad Street building had been made in the name of Pure Milk Vodka from Childhay Manor.

Objectors, one a second home owner, said they feared there could be a public nuisance by opening the bar and have also raised concerns about planning issues, although those will be decided separately.

One property owner claimed the bar would create a “major noise nuisance” and change the character of the top end of Broad Street from being a quiet residential part of the town.

“If this application is granted it will set a dangerous precedent for the commercial development of other properties in the top of the town. Even listed buildings do not seem immune from insensitive development on the lines planned by Black Cow Vodka. If granted, this will undermine the local planning system in its duty to protect residential neighbourhoods and historic listed buildings,” said the letter to the licensing panel.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

Conditions attached to the new licence include 24-hour CCTV which must be made available to the police and Dorset Council; bottles and glasses only to be deposited outside between 8am and 10pm and the staff to be fully trained and follow the Challenge 25 policy. The foyer area will also be limited to a maximum of 60 people with no speakers or amplified music allowed outside.

The operators will also have to make their phone numbers and email addresses available to nearby residents.

The licensing hearing was told that the business aimed to create a small and relaxed coffee and cocktail bar with a shop selling Black Cow brand products and products from other local businesses.

Live music was likely to be limited to piano or acoustic musicians.

Low strength beer and cider would be on offer alongside Black Cow products but no wine and no other spirits.

Owner of the next door Lyme 1 Hotel, Terry Lewis, told the hearing he was concerned about likely noise and the smell of smoking for his customers and said that having an email or phone number to call in the event of problems did not allay his fears.

Ward councillor Belinda Bowden told the hearing that she believed that there was support in the town for bringing the cinema site back into use, following the disastrous 2016 fire, and the ethos of using local suppliers and local products had support from local businesses and residents.  She said she did not believe that the premises would be noisy or lead to antisocial behaviour because that did not fit with the applicant’s aims.

A separate planning application has been submitted to Dorset Council for the premises which asks for a change of use from cinema to bar and adjacent shop, the construction of 42 square metres of wooden decking for seating and to enable disables access and the restoration of the original terrazzo floor.

Comments on the planning application, 2023/04778, remain open until October 20.