A rugby club has won the blessing of councillors to change the opening hours of its £1million new clubhouse to better cater for private functions.
West Hartlepool Rugby Club opened the new building 18 months ago and its function room is used as a venue for family parties, wedding receptions and funerals.
Yesterday, the club won the backing of Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee to alter the hours so that the clubhouse, in Catcote Road, can open at noon on Mondays to Thursdays, mainly to be able to cater for funerals.
It is also set to open for an hour later on Friday and Saturday nights from midnight to 1am.
Club official Dave Picken told the committee: “I’m here just to reassure members and the objectors.
“The rugby club’s new premises opened 18 months ago and its has been more successful than perhaps we thought.
“The hours that we originally had don’t really cover the weekday afternoons, particularly for funerals.
“We have given the Sixth Form College assurance that if we get the planning, we have absolutely no intention of opening to the public on a weekday afternoon. It is purely for private club use.”
Regarding the later opening time, Mr Picken added: “Our experience has been people who book the function room, usually for weddings and family parties on an evening, they’re a bit confused by the fact that it’s a midnight licence and have to be off the premises by midnight.
“We find it prudent that if we have the extra hour, lots of other places have in Hartlepool, means people will leave in a more orderly fashion.”
Under the club’s licensing terms, it is allowed to hold 15 functions a year and has held 14 so far this year. The final social event will be after its Boxing Day game.
Six letters of objection raised concerns around the unsociable nature of the hours due to noise and disturbance to the nearest houses
Supporting the application, Councillor Carl Richardson said: “I think we have got to note there has been no objection from the public protection but also Cleveland Police as well.
“They have said there has been no major incidents or complaints from residents.”
Officers said given the distance of the clubhouse from the nearest homes the new hours would not prove significantly detrimental.
Councillors voted unanimously to be minded to approve the application.
Final approval will be granted by the Planning Services Manager after the consultation period closes.