PEOPLE in the Claypath area of Durham City are hoping to halt plans for a new-style nightspot near their homes.

Residents were dismayed when a planning inspector granted Luminar Leisure's appeal against Durham City Council's refusal to grant planning permission for the conversion of the disused Palladium cinema.

They have formed an association and are hoping their opposition could lead to the company being refused licences for its Chicago Rock Cafe bar.

Next week, the council's licensing committee will consider the company's application for a public entertain- ment licence.

And in January, magistrates will debate on whether the nightspot, which would open until 1am, should get a drinks licence.

The venue, which could hold up to 500 people, is opposed by the city's police who are worried that their resources will be stretched, particularly at weekends.

Residents, including people in the nearby Claypath Court retirement flats, fear there will be disturbances and that anti-social behaviour in the street will increase.

Association chairwoman Kirsty Thomas said: "You have Claypath Court with 40 flats looking out on to the back of Palladium.

"Luminar Leisure's argument is that it will be a very well-managed and civilised operation, and no sound will escape from the building.

"But they will be looking for constant customer interest from 11.30am to 1am the following morning, so there will be huge numbers coming in and out of the building.

"Nobody is going to tell me that they will all turn out sober and highly civilised. That's just cloud cuckoo land.

"It is a very unpleasant prospect, more of the noise and anti-social behaviour that we get at weekends and sometimes on Thursdays."

The firm has said the Chicago Rock Cafe will be well-run and that measures will be taken to stop noise escaping from the building. It has pledged to meet residents to discuss any problems that arise from its operation.

l A Durham pub's bid to stay open until 1am has also run into opposition.

Residents have lodged objections to the plans by the Coach and Eight, Framwelgate Bridge. Magistrates will hear the pub's application in January.