RESTAURANT bosses have won permission to sell alcohol at a new site in County Durham, following a decision by licensing chiefs.

The owners of Italian restaurant, La Mensa, had applied to Durham County Council for a premises licence for 12-13 Main Street in Ferryhill.

Alcohol sales were limited between 12noon-11pm, Monday to Saturday, 12noon-10pm on Sundays and 12noon- 1am on New Years.

Applicants also agreed to close the outdoor seating area at 8pm every day and said they would only host live music indoors “three or four times a year” on Saturday evenings.

The licence bid was discussed by the council’s Statutory Licensing Sub-Committee on Friday (September 18), which was held via videolink and broadcast on YouTube.

Mr Rotherham, of the nearby Higginbottom Pharmacy, objected to the licence bid after raising concerns about the potential noise from the venue.

This included disturbance to both pharmacy patients coming to access a “quiet environment” and staff dispensing medicines.

“As a pharmacy we have to practise safely and we have serviced the community for a very long time, especially through this pandemic, working tirelessly to support the community,” he told the meeting.

“And one of the big aspects of that is safety and also the access of patients to be able to come to a quiet environment and discuss issues like mental health.”

Mr Rotherham added: “I have got no objection to people trying to make a living and nothing personal against anybody.

“But I need to make sure that my business is protected in terms of looking after the people that I look after in the community.”

Mr Diako Varan, representing La Mensa, said his existing restaurant in Shildon was part of the community and he aimed to create the same atmosphere in Ferryhill.

“It’s a family place for families,” he explained.

“Obviously we’re creating jobs and over 15 people are going to work in this restaurant and what we have outside the restaurant is just for dining and families sometimes eating outside if the weather is good.”

At the meeting, it emerged that initial plans for an outside bar/kitchen area had been shelved with the area now being used for storage.

Recorded music in the restaurant would also be limited to ‘background levels’  which, applicants argued, would not require soundproofing works.

Mr Varan added:“We’re not a nightclub and we’re not a bar, we work professionally and we know how to run a business without making problems for neighbours.”

Councillors also heard mechanisms were in place to investigate and deal with any potential noise nuisance in future.

This includes the licensing authority working with the applicant and objectors if issues arise, which can be escalated to the ‘review’ stage if necessary.

After hearing evidence, the committee’s chair, Cllr Pauline Crathorne, ended the meeting so she and Cllr Joyce Maitland and Cllr Karon Liddell could consider the application.

Following discussion, licensing bosses granted the premises licence subject to agreed conditions with Durham Safeguarding Childrens Board and Durham Constabulary.