Theatre Royal hits out at city centre plans for thousands more late night drinkers

Plans for extended opening hours for two Grey Street venues have been met with opposition from Newcastle's Theatre Royal

Grey Street in Newcastle City Centre
Grey Street in Newcastle City Centre

The Theatre Royal is fighting plans for late night bars which they say risk turning Newcastle’s historic Grey Street into another Bigg Market.

City licensing chiefs are being asked to approve two new applications for a bars and restaurants wanting to serve drinks until at least 2am on Grey Street.

Harry’s Bar and the basement bar beneath it face strong opposition from their neighbour across the road, with the Theatre Royal emailing thousands of people asking them to help defeat the plans.

Between the two bars, the Theatre says, there will be 2,000 extra late night drinkers. The original plans, thought to have been modified since, requested permission for nude dancing in the bars.

In a warning of how things could change if the plans get the go-ahead, the theatre has said: “The after effects of late night drinking are commonplace in Newcastle and theatre staff regularly have to clean the entrances to the theatre of vomit, urine and litter, in addition to the occasional broken windows – this will only increase with two nightclubs in such close proximity.

“One of the two nightclubs has included within its licence application nude dancing.

“We do not want a strip club opposite the Theatre Royal. Newcastle Council has designated Grey Street a Special Stress Area, which gives it additional powers to control licensing activity – we believe they should use these powers.”

Theatre bosses add that having more late bars is enough to put at risk Grey Street’s reputation as one of the most significant and historic streets in Newcastle – “a tourist destination in its own right.”

Theatre chief executive Philip Bernays has written to the council to warn against granting new licences.

He said: “If this application was to be successful it would create a high risk of increased public nuisance, have a detrimental effect on Grey Street, one of the most significant streets in England, and on Grey Street’s perception with the public and as consequence on its burgeoning economic development as a place of high quality restaurants and bars.”

City MP Chi Onwurah last night said the Theatre Royal was the “jewel in the crown” of Grey Street. She added: “This street has a vibrant economy along one of the best views in the country. The city’s night life does have a role to play in Newcastle but we need to make sure that the two interests have respect for each other. The last thing we want is to turn Grey Street into another Bigg Market.”

It is thought concerns about nude dancing at the new basement bar relate to the previous licence conditions enjoyed by former rock nightclub Legends, which shut down last year, and is unlikely to be a feature of the new venue.

The company behind the Harry’s Bar plan, London Restaurants (Grey Street), and the basement plan, Cloth Market Newcastle Number 1, are both registered at the same address.

Neither was available for comment yesterday.

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