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Hertfordshire cocktail and live music venue can stay open until past 2:00am

A Hertfordshire cocktail and live music venue can stay open until 2.20am.

District councillors have let Hoo House Harpenden open later on Friday and Saturday nights, after a hearing on Tuesday, April 23.

Venue owner Andy Mills-Brown said the new opening times would “not only benefit Hoo House but really enrich the fabric of our town”.

Neighbours to the premises, at 72 High Street, Harpenden, had sent objections to St Albans City and District Council, which triggered the hearing.

Mr Mills-Brown said: “Hoo House is one of the smallest independently owned bars in Harpenden High Street.

“We have worked hard to provide a range of entertainment catering to the varied interests and needs of our customers.

“We host a plethora of events, including live music from local musicians, psychic evenings, parties for the LGBTQ+ community, sport on our big screen, through to community coffee mornings with We Are Harpenden Mums group.

“We take great pride in providing a diverse and inclusive space.”

He added: “We prioritise the wellbeing of our customers and the surrounding community above all else.”

The venue’s previous licence covered all seven days of the week, and on Friday and Saturday nights, alcohol sales and live music had to stop at midnight.

As part of the new licence, last orders can now take place at any time up until 2am. Hoo House must employ security staff on the door, and shut all doors and windows except for entry and egress after 10pm.

Customers must not take drinks outside after 11pm. None of the responsible authorities, including Hertfordshire Constabulary, had objected to the application.

One member of the public wrote to St Albans City and District Council in an email which read: “One weekend night earlier this month, I was walking home from the station with family members.

“There was a group of people outside Hoo House, clearly drunk, who were shouting and yelling, and two young women seemed to be fighting.

“We didn’t want to get involved so didn’t look too closely.

“My family commented on how astonished they were to see and hear such behaviour in the centre of Harpenden.”

A neighbour called Lisa attended the hearing to object to the application.

She told the licensing sub-committee: “Given that our high street is quite a residential high street, I just don’t feel that these extended hours are appropriate for a place where it’s highly residential.”

Lisa added: “It doesn’t feel like you’re including us who live and sleep in its vicinity.”

Councillor Gill Haynes (LD, Harpenden West), who did not sit on the sub-committee, told her colleagues: “Harpenden as a town is a very different proposition to somewhere like St Albans or Luton.

“It doesn’t have a centre which independently hosts pubs, restaurants and what have you.

“You’ve got a high street which is strung out where residential homes coexist with businesses and up until so far, they coexist fairly well but it wouldn’t take much to upset what is quite a delicate balance.

“I think this licence application is one such.”

Cllr Haynes added: “Despite best efforts by Hoo House, it is very likely to cause additional noise and disruption to residents.”

Another objector, Sanjeev, said his concerns about noise “only started” when Hoo House Harpenden opened in 2023.

The neighbour said: “I understand.

“I was young once.

“People want to have a good time and need a place to go to, but it’s hanging around outside the Hoo House building itself which is causing me – a resident – an issue.

“I don’t think the management takes due care for people hanging around.”

Sanjeev said he “took on board the noise levels I would expect from being in a high street” when he first moved into his house.

As part of the hearing, councillors heard from a district council officer who confirmed a license at the premises had been active since 2005 – when the Licensing Act 2003 came into force.

Daniel Pattenden said the venue “likely held an old magistrates’ licence before that”, but the council’s records do not cover the period before 2005.