Agenda item

Application for the Grant of a Licence for a Sexual Entertainment Venue - Tenshi 2 Rochester 141 High Street Rochester ME1 1EL

This report requests that the Panel consider and determine an application for a licence for a Sexual Entertainment Venue at Tenshi 2 Rochester, 141 High Street, Rochester ME1 1EL 


Following a brief adjournment at the request of the Lawyer, the Chairman drew attention to the number of objectors in attendance at the hearing from the Historic Rochester Residents Association. He asked that where possible the objections of the Association be channeled through one speaker. He stressed that this did not prevent individual objectors from asking questions and summing up but pointed out that it would make the hearing run smoother if, at the point of making representations, these could be made by one individual.


The Panel was advised that this application was for a Sexual Entertainment Venue (SEV) Licence for Tenshi 2, located at 141 High Street, Rochester Kent ME1 1EL.


The Business Development and Licensing Manager advised that the application had been correctly advertised in the local press and notices displayed on the premises for the required timescale.


The Business Development and Licensing Manager advised that Licensing officers had confirmed with the Council’s Planning Section that planning permission had been granted for change of use from an indoor market (Class A1 retail unit) to a bar /restaurant (mixed Class A3/A4 use) on 10 May 2012 under planning application number MC/11/2932 with operating hours of 08.00 to 23.00 Mondays to Saturdays and 10.00 to 22.00 on Sundays and Bank Holidays.


The Panel received a report advising that the premises already held a licence for the sale of alcohol, regulated entertainment and late night refreshment but that this licence had not been used since being granted in 2006.


The committee report stated that as this premises was very long, it was now proposed that the premises be split into two venues with shared toilet facilities. The venue with main access from Rochester High Street would be a bar/café/restaurant. The SEV would have main access from Corporation Street, details of which were shown on a plan attached to the committee report at Appendix A.


The applicant was seeking the following hours/days to trade for the activities of lap dancing, pole dancing, table dancing and stripping (including full nudity):


Wednesday                                      20.00 to 03.00

Thursday                                            20.00 to 03.00

Friday                                                20.00 to 03.00

Saturday                                            20.00 to 03.00


The Business Development and Licensing Manager confirmed that the application had been referred to the Panel for determination following receipt of relevant representations.


The applicant stated the following in support of his application:

  • The key issues to be considered for this application were not the suitability of the applicant and the operation of the premises but the location of the premises, however, if any party had questions about the operation of the premises then he was happy to answer them.
  • The premises for which the licence was being sought was not located on Rochester High Street and the plans on pages 17 and 18 of the agenda showed that the location of the venue was set back from the High Street. A photograph of the rear of the property was circulated.
  • The only shared area between the front and rear venues would be the toilets, but it was not intended that either venue would be open at the same time. Regardless of this, it was intended that the access doors to the toilets would be specially fitted with electronic door locks, thus preventing access from one venue to the other.
  • The Council had set a limit of 2 SEV Licences in the Rochester area and, following another premises recently deciding to cease holding such licence, the opportunity had been taken to apply for the licence to operate part of this venue for Sexual Entertainment. The applicant considered that there was sufficient demand for this type of entertainment.
  • Considerable investment was required at these premises and therefore the Licence was being sought to make such investment a viable option.
  • Any signage would require approval of the Council.
  • The applicant had set up a petition which had over 200 signatures the majority indicated that they were not bothered about the proposal for the premises to have a SEV Licence provided that the premises were properly operated, licenced and regulated. Individuals had commented that it was up to the individual as to whether or not they visited the premises.
  • It was not considered that the provision of a second premises licensed as a SEV would harm the attraction of tourists to Rochester as Brighton had several of these types of venues and yet was still attractive to tourists.
  • Concerns regarding crime and disorder being associated with this type of premises was not substantiated in respect of similar premises operated by the applicant in Rochester and Essex. The applicant considered that premises licensed for Sexual Entertainment generally had a lower level of crime associated with them than premises that were largely supplying alcohol.
  • There were other premises in and around the High Street that could operate similar types of events up to 11 times per year.
  • The applicant had not received any complaints from the Council in 18 years of managing the Casino Rooms in Rochester.
  • The recent changes requiring a licence to operate a SEV had highlighted an activity that was always in existence and was well regulated.
  • The original conditions did require some refinement and these were now fully clarified in the agenda papers at Appendix D.
  • It was stressed that should the SEV Licence be granted, it would not be possible for the licence to be transferred without an application to transfer being applied for and granted.


The Objectors and the Panel then asked a number of questions and the applicant responded as follows:


  • The doors leading to the shared toilets would be key coded doors and locked by a controlling magnet. This would prevent access from one venue to the other. In addition, the premises for which a SEV Licence was being sought would operate on later hours than the bar/café/restaurant which would be primarily open during the day.
  • Reference to ‘upstairs’ in guideline number 18 on page 33 of the agenda papers was an error and should be deleted.
  • If the applicant was of the opinion that such venues had an impact on crime and disorder, they would not be applying for the licence. The applicant has held a SEV licence for one year at another location in Rochester.
  • It was acknowledged that despite holding a SEV licence for one year at the other Rochester venue, the premises had only been operating as a SEV since April 2013, however, it was pointed out that the applicant was still entitled to hold up to 11 events in any one year.
  • In response to concerns regarding advertising for Tenshi 1 , the applicant explained the circumstances that had led to the Council issuing a warning regarding the display of notices for Tenshi 1. It was considered that this had been an unfortunate incident and the applicant had learnt from it.
  • The applicant stated that if a second SEV Licence was to be granted for Rochester, he hoped that there would be a preference for the operator to be someone who has made substantial investment in the area, rather than an individual coming in from outside.
  • The applicant clarified that the premises fronting onto Rochester High Street would be operating in the daytime and early evening as a café/bar/restaurant and that the area of the premises for which the SEV was being sought and which fronted onto Corporation Street would be open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday’s from 20.00 hours. He explained that the bar/care/restaurant area would normally close around 7pm but there may be occasions when the café/bar/restaurant area may be opened later in the evening to cater for special events e.g. hen parties and it was on such occasions that the applicant would have a duty of care to protect people at either venue, hence the proposals to install a secure locking system to the toilets. Such controls would be in use between 20.00 – 03.00 when the SEV licence was in use.
  • It was confirmed that the hours requested for the SEV Licence were the same as that operated at Tenshi 1 and also the same as those previously operated by the Queen Charlotte Public House when it had operated a SEV licence. He confirmed that Sexual Entertainment would begin at around 9.30pm.
  • Access to the entertainments area in Tenshi 2 would be inside the building, through a lobby and shielded by frosted glass.
  • Patrons would be directed to the back of the premises to the entrance in Corporation Street and no signs would be sited in Rochester High Street.
  • The outside smoking area would be in a 2m high enclosure so as to prevent noise breakout. The applicant was aware of the need to avoid public nuisance and it was not unusual for the applicant to limit the number of patrons allowed outside to smoke at any one time.
  • In response to a question as to the location of Tenshi 1, it was clarified that Tenshi 1 was located at the Casino Rooms in Blue Boar Lane and Corporation Street and was approximately 20 – 30 yards away from the proposed Tenshi 2.
  • In respect of advertising in the café area, it was confirmed that if the SEV Licence was approved, there was a condition that the applicant could not advertise without seeking the Council’s consent. Any advertising in the café area would be minimalistic and text based. Reference was made to proposed condition 12 on pages 59 – 62 of the agenda papers concerning advertising.
  • The nearest taxi ranks are located in Blue Boar Lane and at the Railway Station.
  • In response to how the applicant deals with feedback received, the applicant explained that he had had meetings with Councillor Tolhurst regarding concerns relating to advertising and arising from that meeting the proposed conditions for a SEV licence had been re-worded so that they could be enforced by the Council and more easily understood by the operator. He stressed that any other person having concerns were encouraged to contact the applicant via the venue. He suggested that if the Council required the applicant to hold a register of concerns raised with the operator and how these were handled, he was happy for this to be an additional condition. The applicant stressed that this was not solely to do with the SEV Licence application, but the applicant operated an open door policy generally for all premises which he operated.
  • It was stressed that despite applications being for set hours, it was not always the case that the premises would be open for the full hours stated. However, having the hours approved provided the applicant with flexibility, for example Tenshi 1 currently opened at 9.30pm.
  • Challenge 25 enables an operator to challenge anyone that looked to be under the age of 25 years of age. It was clarified that all bar staff, glass collectors and cloakroom assistants would need to provide proof that they were over 18 years of age. The applicant explained that as an employer, the company was under a duty to vet any person working in the premises as the duties involved nighttime working. It was also confirmed that any person joining the company would receive full induction so that they were clear as to where they were coming to work.
  • There would be 16 CCTV cameras located at the premises with monitors feeding back to the office. The cameras could also be monitored in reception so that the Council could inspect what was happening without the need to enter the premises where the activities were taking place. Security monitors would also be provided. This system would also be linked to the phone system.
  • The applicant explained the levels of staff monitoring when private dancing was taking place.
  • It was confirmed that the applicant was fully aware that the premises could not operate under its SEV licence unless a nominated duty manager was on site at all times, and, if an emergency arose which meant that the nominated duty manager had to leave, another nominated duty manager would have to take over for Sexual Entertainment to continue.
  • It was anticipated that the area of the premises licensed for Sexual Entertainment would occupy between 60 – 70 persons but in reality there would be a maximum of between 40 – 50 persons at any one time.
  • In respect of staffing, it was confirmed that both the applicants in attendance at the hearing were registered door supervisors and there would be one person inside the premises and 1 located on the door.
  • The applicant confirmed that the company operated an incident and refusals book at its premises and worked closely with the Police in this respect. It was confirmed that the company had a zero tolerance policy towards persons under the influence and if they were considered to be intoxicated then they would be requested to leave. The applicant stated that as they had a duty of care for their customers, the company would also arrange taxi’s to take people home.
  • It was confirmed that should a Sexual Entertainment performer arrive for work intoxicated they would not be permitted to perform and there would be the usual procedures of verbal and written warnings followed by possible dismissal. In some circumstances the individual may be automatically dismissed. The applicant confirmed that if it was a drugs issue then the individual would be dismissed and not permitted back onto the property and the matter would be referred to the Police.
  • Access to the performer’s changing room facilities would be by way of a separate locked door to which the Manager would have access. A camera would be sited in the changing rooms but would not be on public display.
  • The applicant confirmed that most staff finished work at the same time but if a member of staff requested that they be escorted to their car then this would be provided.
  • All staff would be made aware of the hours of work at interviews so that they could be aware of their need to travel home after work.
  • From research undertaken by Universities around the country, 50 % of persons asked considered nuisance to be caused by pubs and clubs whereas only 15 % considered lap dancing clubs to be a source of nuisance.
  • The Chinese sign for Tenshi translates as Angel and this logo is currently used at other Tenshi premises. As existing Tenshi Clubs had oriental patrons, it was not considered to be offensive to the Chinese community.


In response to concerns that the Council had placed a limit on two SEV licences being granted in Rochester and if the current application was approved, the same operator would hold both Rochester SEV licences, the Business Development and Licensing Manager advised that each licence was for a 12 month period and therefore there was nothing to prevent anyone applying for a SEV Licence at any time.


The Legal Advisor to the Panel explained that even though the Council had stipulated that there should be a limit of 2 SEV Licences granted for the Rochester area, this did not prevent other applicants from applying for a SEV Licence. The Council would still be required to consider each application on its merits.


The Legal Advisor to the Panel also confirmed that Tenshi 1’s SEV was held by Casino Properties and the current application was in the name of Lovellrise and these were two different registered companies, despite having the same Directors and Trustees. He advised that the issue of a monopoly was not an issue relevant for the purposes of considering SEV Licence applications.


In response to a question as to the age of performers, the Legal Advisor to the Panel clarified that as long as performers were over the age of 18 they could perform at a premises with a SEV Licence. However, he stressed that this was not an issue for the Panel to consider and the applicant had confirmed that he would undertake the necessary checks on age as an employer.



The objectors then outlined the basis of their representations as follows:


  • Councillor Tolhurst referred to the applicants submission that from a survey, a large proportion of people were not opposed to the siting of another SEV in Rochester but she stated that her email system and the level of telephone calls she had received indicated otherwise.
  • It was not appropriate to compare Rochester with Brighton as they were not of a comparable size.
  • The proposed Tenshi 2 is in very close proximity to the existing Tenshi 1 and Tenshi 1 has only been open for business for a couple of weeks. It was therefore difficult to assess the impact that this Club has had.
  • Concern that the entrance to Tenshi 2 will be on Corporation Street and there are elderly residents living opposite the entrance whereas Rochester High Street is covered by CCTV.
  • The area surrounding the proposed location of Tenshi 2 is highly populated with residential accommodation, including families with young children.
  • The Adult Education Centre is located adjacent and evening courses are run at the Centre.
  • To locate a second lap dancing club in Rochester will make Rochester the lap dancing centre of Kent and this will have a detrimental affect on tourism.
  • Concerns that the signage and advertising for Tenshi 1 had been greater than was originally thought, therefore if Tenshi 2 is granted a licence, there should be tighter controls on advertising.
  • The siting of two SEV’s in Rochester in close proximity is unfair to the residents that live in the locality especially as the patrons of these establishments are probably not residents of the area.
  • Concerns that the proposed smoking area will have an affect on nearby residents and generate noise complaints.
  • There is already one SEV in the locality of Rochester High Street and to site two SEV’s in the area would alter the image of Rochester.
  • If there are long delays in the opening of Tenshi 2 as in the case of Tenshi 1, with the limit of two SEV licences in Rochester, this prevents anyone else applying for a licence to operate a SEV for an alternative location at the other end of the High Street away from Tenshi 1.
  • Whilst it is accepted that the Queen Charlotte Public House staged Sexual Entertainments for a number of years, this was very low key and Tenshi 2 would be a bigger operation. In addition Tenshi 2 would be located in closer proximity to Tenshi 1 than the Queen Charlotte.
  • Concern that taxi cabs will pull up on double yellow lines to drop off and collect patrons and that this could cause accidents.
  • The committee report refers to residential properties in Corporation Street being demolished to make way for the Railway Station but this is not true as there are elderly residents living opposite the proposed premises.
  • The Historic Rochester Residents Association have been running an online petition to be presented at this hearing and in excess of 200 people have signed the petition objecting to the application for a SEV Licence for Tenshi 2.
  • Residents living in the vicinity of the High Street were not opposed to the evening economy, but objected to the night time economy where customers arrive at between 9 – 10 pm and did not leave until 2 – 3 am.
  • Residents in Rochester live in old properties located in a Conservation Area and therefore were not permitted to install double glazing.
  • Concerns that the Council actively promotes the High Street for tourism and to families through the various festivals that it stages throughout the year and with the location of one nightclub and a SEV, it was not considered that there should be a second SEV.
  • Concerns that many people will not visit Rochester in the evening.
  • Concerns that Tenshi 2 is located in an area of historic importance with the location of Rochester Cathedral, Rochester Castle, Eastgate House, and Dickens Chalet in addition to other listed buildings.
  • To be able to award two SEV Licences in Rochester is not a reason to do so.
  • The Council is planning substantial regeneration of the Rochester with the development of high quality housing as part of Rochester Riverside and this will increaser the number of families in the area that would be exposed to signage for SEV’s.
  • Approximately 200 coaches drop off tourists in Rochester each day and the first thing tourists will see will be signs for a SEV.
  • The siting of a second SEV in the High Street could impact on economic investment in the town and could deter new businesses from locating in the High Street.
  • The location of the premises will be close to a bus stop and other evening businesses e.g. restaurants and users of the bus stop and restaurants will be in the vicinity of Tenshi 2 when the club is operational.
  • Concerns that patrons will become sexually aroused by entertainment in the club and then go outside the building for a cigarette where they will be in close contact with young women who may also be in the area e.g. at the bus stop. This could lead to potential for harassment.
  • Concerns that the entrance to the premises is located nearer to the highway than that stated in the Council report.
  • Whilst the applicant states that he is willing to listen to feedback, not everyone feels comfortable in making complaints.
  • The Kent Online statistics indicated that 46% were against the application, 24% had no problems but would not visit the premises, 18% stated that they may visit the premises and 11 % indicated that they didn’t know or didn’t care. The Association did not realize that they would not be permitted to present the findings of their petition at the appeal hearing today but they would ensure that this was borne in mind in the future.


The Legal Advisor to the Panel clarified for both the applicant and the Historic Rochester Residents Association that Paragraph 19.6 of the Statement of Policy in respect of Sex Establishments required all copies of documents to be submitted to the Licensing Manager a minimum of one working day prior to the hearing taking place. Therefore both petitions referred to by the applicant and the Historic Rochester Resident’s Association had not been supplied in time to be considered at this appeal hearing. He stated that the Panel would need to be mindful of the weight to be given to the petitions when reaching its decision.


The Chairman confirmed that he did not consider it necessary to see the petitions.


The applicant responded by stating that:


  • In response to concerns regarding signage at Tenshi 1, the applicant has not sought any further signage than was originally asked for and flyers are not produced for this premises.
  • The applicant advised that whilst he accepted that Councillor Tolhurst was representing her constituents, their business was also located in her Ward and therefore she was also the Ward Councillor for businesses operating in the area.
  • The applicant was part of the town of Rochester and therefore considered it better that he operate the business and he requested that this be taken into consideration.
  • It was not considered that Tenshi 2 would deter tourists as the premises would not be open until the evening and all activities would be taking place behind closed doors and out of sight.
  • All signage would be the subject of planning permission and conditions set by the Council.





The Panel carefully considered the application for a Sexual Entertainments Venue Licence at Tenshi 2 located at 141 High Street, Rochester having regard to the points put forward by the applicants and objectors, including the Ward Councillor and the responses to questions.


In reaching its decision, the Panel had regard to paragraphs 19 and 20 of the Council’s Statement of Licensing in respect of Sexual Establishments.


The Panel decided to refuse the application for the following reasons:


The Panel was satisfied that the applicant was suitable, that it was to be carried out by the applicant itself and the application did not exceed the number of Sexual Entertainment Venue Licences in the area. However, the Panel considered that the premises was not suitable to be licensed for Sexual Entertainmentsgiven the size and predominant use of 141 High Street as an Sexual Entertainment Venue as well as its proximity to community facilities such as the adjacent Adult Education Centre, which is also used as a library, its proximity to the bus stop on Corporation Street and its proximity to Tenshi1 which is also operating under a Sexual Entertainments Venue licence, as strongly evidenced by the objectors, including the Ward Councillor.


The Panel was also swayed that the egress to Tenshi 2 would be directly opposite to residential premises that are primarily occupied by the elderly.


The Panel considered evidence presented concerning the Queen Charlotte’s previous SEV Licence. However, the Panel differentiated between the Queen Charlotte and Tenshi 2 on the basis of the different combination of size and predominant use.


Furthermore, the egress to Tenshi 2 would be approximately 50 yards along the same stretch of road to Tenshi 1, whereas the Queen Charlotte was located further away and on a different road to Tenshi 1.


Given the above, the Panel felt that it could not issue the SEV licence even with the conditions proffered by the applicant and therefore the application was refused.

Supporting documents: