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Historic Corn Exchange re-opening draws closer as new licence plan discussed

A historic Newark nightclub venue could reopen under new management if councillors grant a second licensing application next month.

The Corn Exchange, in Castle Gate, is being transformed into a multi-use leisure venue after being closed for several years.

Owners of the Grade-II listed building have been in negotiations with Newark and Sherwood District Council over its future for more than three years.

Key talking points have included the wider building’s licence, closing times and the time any operators could serve alcohol until.

A licence for the wider building was first approved in 2020 before an appeal in 2022 saw its opening times extended as the council looked to support the business post-Covid.

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The approved plans in 2022 were coupled with a strong operating plan and licensing conditions, the Conservative-run authority said at the time.

Now the landlord has confirmed a tenant has been found for the ground and first floors of the building to use the site as a nightclub once again.

A licensing application will now be discussed by a panel of councillors on April 3 to decide whether to grant the new operator a licence.

The application is the same agreement approved for the wider building in May 2022 but will be limited solely to the ground and first floors.

It means the nightclub would be allowed to open from 8am-2am, Monday to Wednesday, 8am-3.30am on Thursdays and Sundays and 8am-4.30am on Fridays and Saturdays.

The sale of alcohol would be limited to 2am, 3am and 4am respectively.

These restrictions were agreed upon between the council and Corn Exchange Newark Ltd last year and deemed “sustainable to both parties”.

However, teams behind the building say they want to secure a second licence specifically for this tenant to safeguard the landlord in the future.

In a report, the council said: “The applicant could allow his prospective tenant to operate now under the terms of the current licence.

“He has chosen to apply to license part of the building for them to operate under their own licence.

“It is a common practice in bigger towns and cities to have two licences for the same premises. It is a way of landlords safeguarding their licence.

“If this tenant were to become insolvent, it would be this new licence that would lapse and not the one for the whole site.

“Therefore, Corn Exchange Newark Ltd would be able to open up and trade in these areas using the licence for the whole building.

“If this application is refused, the applicant could still open under the existing licence.”

Commenting last year when the original licence was approved, Matt Clarke, a representative for the Corn Exchange, welcomed the decision.

He said: “We’re grateful to Newark and Sherwood District Council … which continues to work with us to review our plans.

“We look forward to working with them in the future to bring the property back to life.”

Cllr David Lloyd (Con), the council’s leader, added: “We have reached an agreement … with regards to how the building can be brought back into use.

“The best interests of our residents, the iconic building and employment opportunities [are] at the heart of that decision.

“With recent investment in the town we are dedicated to increasing opportunities for our residents; making the town an even better place to live, work and visit.”

One letter of concern related to the plans will be heard during the April 3 panel.

This described the authority’s previous licensing decision as “weak” and said it “manifestly failed to protect” residents’ amenities and safety.

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