Homemart on Kirkgate in Wakefield denied alcohol licence after Waterstones and Halifax objections

​A new city centre convenience store has had its bid for an alcohol licence refused, amid concerns about street drinking in the surrounding area.

Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 5:15 pm

Homemart opened on Kirkgate in Wakefield, in a unit formerly occupied by the clothing store Edinburgh Woollen Mill, last month.

The shop's bosses insisted they would adhere to strict conditions, employ door security and would "not contribute" to Kirkgate's long-standing problems with nuisance drunks causing anti-social behaviour.

But after a licensing hearing on Tuesday, a panel of three councillors said they were unconvinced giving Homemart permission to sell booze wouldn't have a negative impact.

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The new store opened last month.

The city centre is considered a "cumulative impact zone" by the council, meaning that any new premises wanting to sell alcohol has to demonstrate they will be able to improve the surrounding area.

Four of Homemart's neighbours, including Waterstones and Halifax had objected to the licence, as had three local councillors. All of them suggested that making booze available at another store would make street drinking worse.

Halifax's local branch manager even said her staff had been threatened by a gang of drinkers who frequent the Cathedral precinct outside.

However, none of the objectors attended the hearing to make their case in person.

Representing the store, licensing consultant Suresh Kanapathi told the hearing that the shop's managers had considerable experience in retail.

He said: "It's not like any other corner shop.

"It's a reputable business they wanted to build.

"This is a positive development for Wakefield town centre. They've spent over £30,000 on this business already. They're going to recruit local staff."

Mr Kanapathi pointed out that Homemart's nextdoor neighbours Marks and Spencer's sell alcohol and said no single cans of beer and cider would be sold.

The shop had also agreed to a police request to limit the hours it would sell alcohol to between 9am and 10pm, having originally requested a 6am to 11pm licence.

Shop manager, Harika Yedla, who also attended the hearing, said that selling alcohol was crucial to Homemart's business model and that at least one security guard would be on duty throughout trading hours.

Mr Kanapathi added: "This is a retail store and it will sell everything you can imagine. It's just like a Sainsbury's Local and a Tesco Extra.

"This premises is not going to contribute to these problems. This isn't us saying, 'There's no problems here' - we're not saying that.

"But the operating schedule is very strong."

After an hour's deliberation, the panel rejected the application.

In its verdict, which was read aloud, councillors said they "recognised the detail in the application and the measures" Homemart was prepared to take.

However, they added that, "On balance, the committee is not satisfied that granting a further alcohol licence within the Kirkgate area would not cause further public nuisance."

Local Democracy Reporting Service