CIVIC chiefs have approved Winchester University's plans to hold late-night events at its West Downs Centre, despite opposition from neighbours. 

The university applied to Winchester City Council for a new premises licence for the centre in Romsey Road.

The city council's licensing sub-committee permitted the plan on Monday, February 19. 

The original application sought permission to host events both in and outdoors from 11am to midnight, as well as supply of alcohol from 11am to midnight.

However after this sparked 11 objections, the university amended the application to hold events indoors only from 11am to 11pm and for the supply of alcohol from 11am to 11pm.

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The university's solicitor Alex Tomlinson told the meeting that the licence would provide the venue with more flexibility. The alternative would be to continue using temporary event licences. 

Mr Tomlinson said: “Myself and the university would like to offer our apologies to local residents because this application should have been better communicated from the outset and that was an omission on our part. 

“This application is so the West Downs Centre can hold corporate events. We do hold these events at the moment, but using temporary events notices. We understand the objections, so we have removed the outdoor aspect. 

“We think it's reasonable for the area. It's definitely not a new students' union.”

Thomas Roy Patterson, of Cornes Close, spoke in objection. He said: “I believe there should be an absolute rejection on the grounds of prevention of public nuisance. 

“The university has demonstrated an inability to manage issues on the site already. The university's policy appears to be to do as little as possible and wait for people to complain. 

“Also, the application is only for indoor use, but windows and doors will be open, so it won't make a difference. A condition should be included to close doors and windows during these events. 

“This will undoubtedly be exploited for student activities to the detriment of local residents.”

The city council's licensing officer Carol Stefanczuk read out an objection from Helen Dawson, of Cornes Close, who was unable to attend the meeting. It said: “You should consider shorter hours for the consumption of alcohol to protect residents from late-night nuisance.”

Mr Tomlinson said that the student events could include showcases of artwork. He added that the university would be happy to include a condition to limit the doors and windows being open during events. 

Approving the application Cllr Michael Read, the committee's chairman, said that doors and windows would have to be closed in non-academic areas when "licensable activities are taking place". 

He added: “The amendments provided by the applicant were reasonable.”