THE fightback against the “alcohol economy” in Headingley took another knock when councillors allowed a premises licence to be granted for Macys in Otley Road.
Leeds councillor Neil Walshaw, who represents the area, said the café had applied for an alcohol licence despite previous undertakings it would not do so.
He said that despite opposition from local councillors, five residents’ groups including North Hyde Park Neighbourhood Association and 46 individual objections, the licence was granted albeit with far stricter conditions then the applicant, Salinas Entertainment Ltd, wanted.
Coun Walshaw said: “I am concerned with the long term health and social impacts of yet another addition to Headingley’s already crowded alcohol economy.
“The applicant insisted the business is not going to be alcohol-led and therefore the Licensing Committee felt that the Cumulative Impact Policy, which seeks to limit the numbers of bars, restaurants and takeaways in Headingley, would not apply. Is this a compromise too far? Only time will tell.
“My heartfelt thanks to local residents for making their feelings felt through their objections, which helped bring about the strict conditions put on the application.”
He said these conditions included not being able to operate as an off licence, not being able to serve alcohol after 7pm, and the company cannot apply for use of outside seating and serve alcohol without food.
Coun Walshaw added: “I will be keeping an eye on Macys to see that it keeps to the conditions of its licence and does not end up as yet another ‘vertical drinking den’ which Headingley just does not need.”
Coun Jamie Matthews, who also represents Headlingley, added: “I was disappointed with the result to be quite honest.
“From the outset I was fully supportive of a new business but everything seems to come with an alcohol tag these days.
“It’s OK for Leeds city centre to have all these alcohol-led establishements as they have the resources – CCTV, litter collection etc – to deal with them and does not have that many residents, but the reverse situation is the case here.
“And it means that every time a fresh licence is proposed residents greet them with a degree of cynicism.
“No one wants to be a killjoy but these decisions have to be taken in the context of Headingley being a heavily residential area.
“Having said all that the strict conditions are welcome – alcohol cannot be taken out and it can only be served with food.”
A report prepared for the Licensing Sub Committee’s guidance advised that alcohol would be available from morning until 11pm. However, in permitting the application the committee agreed only to a 7pm finish for alcohol sales.
In the company’s application it was stated that only wines and bottled beers would be served with no draught alcohol sold.
It was said that the premises would operate as a European-style Cafe Bar/New York style deli and serve high-quality food and coffee.
Coun Gerald Wilkinson, chairman of the sub committee, said it had been a difficult decision which had been finely balanced.
He said: “The company put up a very good case for the licence. We did believe it was a food-led opportunity with a little bit of alcohol being sold.
“I am aware of the concerns of the Headingley residents and councillors but we have pulled the hours down to 7pm only.
“I agree that the area is at saturation point for alcohol-led premises but this is food-led.
“To be honest it could have gone either way but we chose in favour of the applicant and the conditions imposed will try to ensure that it doesn’t cause any problems.”
Salinas Entertainment Group also own the Rock Bar in Leeds which was recently voted the best- designed bar in Yorkshire.
No one from Macys was available for comment yesterday.