By Ben Goddard

COUNCILLORS have gone away to consider whether they will grant a controversial alcohol licence at a former maternity building.

Unit 2 at SY8 Studios, Gravel Hill used to form part of Ludlow Hospital before being sold off by the NHS in 2017.

Art-Iculate say the licence is necessary to support community activities in the building, known as Gather, which will run as a co-working space for local artists and makers.

The company have also applied for a licence to show ‘artisan films’ in the building between 5pm and 10pm on weekends.

Shropshire Council’s sub-licencing committee met on Monday morning to discuss the application.

The council had received 18 representations against the application during the consultation process and 12 in support.

The League of Friends for Ludlow Community Hospital also raised their concerns over an ‘unwanted level of noise’ distressing patients.

Nick Sempler, from the Licensing Guys, represented the applicant at the hearing and said that the building would ‘primarily’ be a co-working space.

He said it would cater for a maximum of 50 co-workers with approximately 20 desk spaces across 19 square metres.

The licence would see alcohol sales from noon until 9pm and the showing of films until 10pm. Also, sale of alcohol off the premises between noon and 5.30pm. The closing time of the premises would be 10.30pm.

Mr Sempler said that all events and workshops would be ticketed and that the applicant wished to retail ‘small quantities of locally sourced artisan wines and beers’ to the attendees.

“The activities of the licence are actually very minimal,” said Mr Sempler.

Mr Sempler added that the services were private and the public could not ‘walk in’ to access them without a membership or booked in to use the facilities.

He added that sales of locally sourced existing online coffee business on-site who require the ability for people to pick up products, including liquors, from couriers or pre-arranged appointments.

He highlighted that police, environmental standards, environmental health, children’s services and Public Health had all ‘raised no issue’.

Mr Sempler added that there was ‘no evidence’ that the licence would cause anti-social behaviour or noise.

“What you have is fear and speculation about what might or might not happen at some undisclosed point in the future,” added Mr Sempler.

However, residents spoke against the licencing application raising fears over public transport and access, which they were told was not a licensing matter.

Ludlow resident Sue Cambell argued that there was an ‘obvious conflict’ between patients, staff and relatives at Ludlow Hospital and the licensing of the studios.

“Both are clearly advantageous in Ludlow, but placed in close proximity will lead to conflict,” she said.

Concerns were then raised around the noise of people leaving the venue in close proximity to those receiving end of life care at the hospital.

Health campaigner Gill George spoke against the application highlighted her concerns over dispersal noise.

“We know that people are going to be a little bit loud after a couple of drinks,” she argued.

“Given the cramped nature of the site, people leaving will be passing before end of life rooms.”

Shropshire councillors for Ludlow Andy Boddington and Tracey Huffer both supported the application and welcomed the investment.

Councillor Boddington said that the Station Drive Surgery which supplies GP services to Ludlow Hospital did not object.

“This is unique, it’s not subsidised by the public purse,” said councillor Boddington about the project. “It’s so exciting and the limited amount of alcohol is part of the offer that will make it work.”

Councillor Huffer said that there was ‘no logical argument’ not to support the application.

“It’s one of the most exciting regeneration projects that I have seen in over 20 years as a Ludlow councillor,” she added. “In my opinion this is the best possible outcome for a building which can never be returned to its former use.”

The sub-licence committee went away to make their decision and said that they would advise interested parties of their decision in writing within five working days.