Residents’ bid for review of Faith in Strangers premises licence not granted

Faith in Strangers

An application for a full review of the premises licence for Faith in Strangers in Cliftonville has not been granted following a lengthy hearing today (February 17).

Thanet’s Environmental Protection officers had applied for the review in light of noise complaints from residents living above the premises. However, this request was withdrawn on December 9 “as further appraisal of the evidence has indicated that there is not a public nuisance emanating from the premises as evidence has only been gathered in one premises which does not meet the definition of public nuisance.”

In a fractious hearing before Thanet council’s sub licensing committee representations were heard for and from residents, with South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay speaking for some of the residents, and from Faith in Strangers legal representation, owners and district councillor Rob Yates.

Statements were also heard from the council’s environmental team despite protest from Sarah Clover, representing Faith In Strangers, that the entire hearing was not lawful due to the application being withdrawn.

Residents at Cliftonville Court, comprised of 12 flats above Faith in Strangers, said noise from music at the venue was a ‘public nuisance.’

Craig Mackinlay, Georgina Powell, Christopher Rees-Gay and Beth Pritchard

Represented at the hearing by Christopher Rees-Gay of Woods Whur, residents said that Faith in Strangers had changed from a private members club with co-working spaces to a ‘nightclub’ with the noise of bass “travelling through the building.”

The committee was told the site was open “later” with “more disturbance and more revellers” and “residents cannot enjoy a normal home life, even watching TV has been impossible.”

Owners of the flat directly over Faith in Strangers, Georgina Powell and partner Beth Pritchard said they had registered noise of 50 decibels in their home with music and clear up noise going on until 3am.

The couple said they have had to delay IVF treatment because of the conditions and had diverted all their savings into legal fees.

Georgina added: “There are 12 families in Cliftonville Court being driven out….We are bearing the mental, emotional and financial cost.”

Mum-of-two Rosie Mae Deal said the music could be felt through the floor of her one and three-year old boys’ bedroom with the greatest effect on her oldest boy who is autistic.

Resident Jackie Davis, in her 80s, added: “It’s the noise. I am all for entrepreneurism but this is beyond the pale.”

Craig Mackinlay said the outcome of the hearing could decide whether the homes residents “love and enjoy will be worth what they paid for it or worth next to nothing.”

He added that 100db – which he said the speaker system was capable of – was equivalent to the noise of a jet taking off.

But the committee was also told that the application for review and a noise abatement order issued by environment protection officers had been withdrawn due to impact only being agreed on one property which was not enough to equal public nuisance.

The committee was told there have been further complaints since the notice and review application were withdrawn and the team would continue to investigate reported incidents.

The request from residents was for conditions to be imposed including a cut off time of 11pm, replacement of hand dryers with hand towels, removal of live music and a noise limiter fitted in the venue.

Rob Yates, Sarah Clover and Richard Randles

Miss Clover, for Faith in Strangers, said the venue -at the site formerly occupied by Franks nightclub and historically the Starlight Club- had been granted planning permission and a premises licence in 2018 and the soundproofing work was not only signed off by Thanet council but ”effectively designed” by the authority.

She said business owners Jeremy Duffy and Richard Randles had spent in excess of £50,000 on noise isolation alone and the sound proofing works had been approved by Thanet council twice through both planning and licensing.

She added: “This is a lawful use of this site, going back many years even before Faith in Strangers moved in,” adding that the committee was receiving “no representations from planning and no representations from the police.”

Faith in Strangers owners  Jeremy and Richard said the venue offered cultural, artistic, community and business support activities and had supported PoW (Power of Women), Our Kitchen On The Isle Of Thanet (food charity) and others for free.

In their statement they said: “These activities are a strong part of the businesses artistic and social ethos, however, they do not generate revenue to enable the business to operate. Faith In Strangers’ main income is generated by bar sales on a busy Friday and Saturday night.”

They explained that smaller speakers were spread throughout the venue rather than having one large system so that music could be heard by customers even though it was played at a lower level.

They disputed any change to the way they operated with Ms Clover saying music events had always been part of the business plan and not everything being levelled at the venue “has been reasonable.”

They received backing from ward councillors Alan Currie and Heather Keen and district councillor Rob Yates.

Cllr Yates spoke at the hearing saying he had used the co-working space and attended events at the club and the venue had installed sound proofing, employed door staff, closed off the balcony area after 9pm and was installing new hand-dryers. He added that if one resident could force a licence review “other late night businesses across the area will feel nervous.”

Mr Duffy said an 11pm cut off time and other suggested conditions on the licence would “be the end of us.”

He said: “We have put nearly half a million in the property, it was a derelict site.”

‘Difficult decision’

After deliberations the committee, chaired by Cllr Sam Bambridge, said although it had been a “difficult decision” and  “competing interests” were recognised steps could not be taken to place conditions on, or revoke, the licence because the application for review had been withdrawn.

Instead it was suggested “all parties collaborate” to resolve the issues and if that failed then another licence review application could be made.

‘A win’

Following the decision Cllr Yates said: “This is a win for late night businesses across Thanet. I feel sympathy for the residents directly above the club, however this location has always been a venue with music and I am glad it is due to remain one.

“Faith in Strangers has worked with the council from day one, their licence and planning applications were reviewed closely with TDC officers; their licence application did not receive objections from residents when it was applied for, and today the council put in writing that “there is not a public nuisance emanating from the premises.”

“The venue is very much part of the Thanet community and I am glad that now this ordeal is over the business owners can focus their attention on more art and community events.”


Mr Mackinlay said of the decision: “I am furious for Cliftonville Court residents who had to endure and pay for legal representation across a four and a half hour licensing committee meeting which came to no proper conclusion. It determined, in summary, that because of a litany of foul-ups by Thanet District Council, the hearing was not a legitimate one and in the absence of TDC bringing one properly in the future, residents would have to initiate a private action under the Licensing Act.

“On my part, I was pleased to make robust representations on behalf of my local residents whose lives are being adversely affected by the weekend late-night noise coming from the Faith in Strangers nightspot which has morphed from being a widely supported community work and art space into an unwelcome full on late-night drinking club.”


    • It seems that one faction of TDC ended up arguing with another faction of TDC – so clearly no corporate approach here !

      Is it the case of someone not doing their job properly once again ?

    • There most certainly were periods on antisocial behaviour associated with Franks, namely the noise made by revellers as they made their way ,usually, via edgar and dalby to northdown road. However once the complaints were known door staff periodically wandered back and forth asking people to remember the local residents. It worked well.
      One lot of residents saying there was no noise is no more valid than another saying there was. And obviously it will very much depend on the flats position in the block.
      Interesting regarding the clause in the lease, however in the absence of there being definitions of levels of noise that should be accepted it’d be hard to see that the clause would not be seen as unreasonable.
      As for the flats being bought cheap, again in comparison to what and when. How much was any supposed discount related to any upcoming works etc etc.
      As with all such things it gets very complicated, which generally works against the leaseholder and favours the freeholder.
      I’ve no interest in either party, but would like to have seen a decent hearing and some test results regarding the sound levels that the tenants say disturb them.
      The references to ivf and autism are of no relevance.

  1. realy = faith in strangers ? i dont even have faith in the government or the royal family , so i dont see that as a wise choice of a title in this country

  2. Quite right, Craig MacKinlay, 100db, just like the effect of living by an airport when a jet takes off. I think the residents should learn from freely available noise data on the damage to human health. That’s what we did in No Night Flights. This is a serious health risk to the residents and a risk to shortening their lives. It is irrelevant that it has always been there. So have cars and pollution has not only affected air quality but is capable of killing young children. Thanet District Council has a duty of care to its residents and that includes protecting their health from environmental hazards.

    Councillor Yates the residents’ ordeal is not over and whilst I appreciate the financial burden to Faith in Strangers, this appears to be a case of putting profit before people.

    Very disappointing when the licensing board is able to make a sensible decision, it prolongs the agony for all concerned.

    “Noise can cause annoyance and fatigue, interfere with communication and sleep, reduce efficiency and damage hearing. … Physiological effects of exposure to noise include constriction of blood vessels, tightening of muscles, increased heart rate and blood pressure and changes in stomach and abdomen movement.”

  3. If a business complies with all planning conditions going back over many years why should the business owners be blamed. ?
    Situations change however, this premises was always known as a night club. Buyer beware. Perhaps your legal advisers etc did not look into historical use of the premises. Perhaps you have a claim against your advisors.

    • Franks closed in 2009, anecdotally there were always problems with noise between the club and the flats. When it was shut the internals of the old club were completely stripped and if you ever asked those working on the building over the years it was empty, it was always claimed it was going to be a gallery, restaurant, offices.

      Preventing noise transmission is specialist area both in terms of design and installation, 50k doesn’t really buy a lot of design/installation/testing , there’s both airborne and impact transmission to deal with, the reference to bass being heard in the flats may suggest that areasmof the construction are acting as a drum, requests for hand dryers to be replaced with towels suggests transmission throught he structure.

      Given that new build flats need test results to achieve a building control certificatein terms of noise transmission you’d have expected tdc to have asked for tests in this case, but there’s no mention. Just as you’d expect the tenants experiencing issues to have had sound levels recorded in their flats.

      It might be fair to guess this story is not over yet.

  4. FFS. This building has been a venue for 50 years! It’s simple, buy a cheap property above a culturally iconic venue as you recognise that you are buying a place that is cheaper than even the sea views in the next building along or deal with it!!

    I personally know the owners and can see their vision. The problem is, most of Thanet just loves a story to moan about and can’t see the greater benefit to locals in the long term.

    I hope this venue makes noise and creates a great space for people to enjoy themselves way into the future.

    Let’s make a future for all and forge a union to benefit everyone.

    • This reads a lot like someone demonising and belittling lower income individuals with paltry reasoning ie health not being more valuable than long term, and yet unpromised, commercial outcomes. Everyone has the right to live safe and free from harm regardless of their ticket price of their property.

  5. Sound proofing was fitted to specification and signed off by TDC. The venue was granted a music license and subsequently the owners built a business plan with that in mind.

    The venue has a license for music every night if it wishes but usually only has live music on Friday and Saturday nights. The venue has always been a night club in the past.

    All these are solid facts which cannot be disputed.

    Going forward, if the club owners agreed to limit the decibel level a few notches this would be a fair gesture to the residents living in the flats and may prevent any future disputes.

    • Sound proofing was fitted to specification and signed off by TDC, as a statement is all well and good , but was any sound testing undertaken as part of that process?
      Sound transmission is notoriously difficult to deal with and the only real proof that the specified system was both a correct solution and fitted correctly is to conduct tests.

      My understanding ( but i am happy to have this corrected) is that there has been an extension of what Faith in Strangers was originally proposed to be ( shared work space, with some related social activity) to what is now the original concept AND a thriving late night bar.

  6. TDC are a joke and the Cllrs are too. They know granting a licence was totally wrong after the soundproofing was removed and replaced by something else. You can see nothing on the ceiling in one photo. TDC are covering themselves for their mistakes by refusing the action.
    The residents must fight on against this inept council.

  7. Keep going those residents. The absurd suggestion that it was “always a nightclub so why move there” is bullying and distressing I’m sure.

    And for Rob Yates to say “nothing to see here” is nothing short of the Politburo. Having lived above a licensed premises which for years flouted the terms of its own licence I know how distressing and exhausting this will be.

    Faith in Strangers needs to move.

  8. “Craig Mackinlay […] added that 100db – which he said the speaker system was capable of – was equivalent to the noise of a jet taking off.”
    Oh! The irony.
    This from the man that supports a 24×7 airport, where the 100db sound of aircraft taking off every few minutes day and night would affect 1000’s of households, rather than a dozen.

  9. Craig Mackinlay demonstrates his complete lack of scientific knowledge comparing a sound system “capable of” 100dB (and actually measured at 50dB) with a jet producing 100dB at a distance of 500+ feet (as actually measured over Ramsgate schools). As a supporter of the creation of a new Manston airport his hypocrisy is only matched by his scientific illiteracy.

  10. Craig McKinlay takes your side you know you are in trouble.

    No surprise that no evidence is able to back up his claims. He likes to be on the side of no evidence.

    I am shocked he is actually doing something close to representing his constituents though. Hell must have frozen over. He would deny it’s frozen over and say it’s just natural hell is icy.

  11. Craigs hypocrisy is monstrous. Whilst I applaud his support of these residents how come he campaigns for a filthy cargo plane to come in directly over Ramsgate Harbour at 500 feet every 12 minutes?

    Grossly hypocritical

  12. while we are on the subject of our glorious MP,s i notice old Rog has been quiet lately – has he wandered off somewhere?

  13. Seems it could easy get an alcohol/latenite license here in lovely thant.

    Thats good for all the business making profit but please remember the more alco/late nite licenses need 24hour policing by tdc (not plod).

    They read this script, its known !

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