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East Herts Council grants alcohol licence for Beer Shop Ltd to open Bishop's Stortford branch – next to Wheatsheaf pub

Neighbours feared trouble was brewing but East Herts Council has granted a licence for Beer Shop Ltd to open an outlet in Bishop's Stortford.

Directors John Gudgin and Ben Hudson, who have branches in St Albans and Hitchin, have decided the former Body Barre fitness studio at Northgate End is the perfect location for their brand. It is next to the Wheatsheaf pub.

The district council's licensing sub-committee, chaired by Stortford Liberal Democrat Cllr Chris Wilson, was told the site was ideal because they need space for a nano-brewery – small-scale production on-site – and to accommodate barrels for a beer-ageing programme.

The site of the proposed Beer Shop next to the Wheatsheaf pub in Northgate End
The site of the proposed Beer Shop next to the Wheatsheaf pub in Northgate End

The outlet will also sell speciality bottles, cans and beer from tap produced locally and from around the world, and have a bar for up to 50 drinkers to sample the ales. The Beer Shop will also fulfil online orders. Mr Gudgin told the sub-committee around 70% of its sales are consumed off the premises.

Graham Hopkins, of GT Licensing consultants, represented Mr Gudgin and Mr Hudson at the hearing last Tuesday (August 17). He told the panel of three councillors – including Hertford duo Rosemary Bolton (Con) and Carolyn Redfern (Lab) – that the directors were experienced, responsible operators with eight years' experience in St Albans and six in Hitchin.

He said: "Police have raised no concerns about the application."

Two residents wrote to the council to object to the licence. One said: "Siting a beer shop only yards away from a youth centre is asking for trouble."

Another wrote: "Buying drinks here means those of us who live between the premises and the town centre will be subject to noise, litter and general raucousness, including vomiting, outside people's houses that accompanies alcohol consumption."

But Mr Hopkins made it clear his clients' business model – including the pricing structure for premium drinks – would deter younger customers and excessive consumption. He said typical drinkers were in their 40s and 50s and "people who like real ales and premium ales".

The shop will not sell shots and offer tasters of its high-end products in third-of-a-pint measures.

The applicants agreed to install CCTV, limit any music to ambient levels and move waste and accept deliveries only between 8am and 9pm to minimise disturbance.

The shop will sell alcohol between 10am and 10pm although it will be able to open from 8.30am for special events such as private tours of the nano-brewery.

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