Leeds: Troubled former nightclub to be reborn as a restaurant?

BAR BATTLE: Antonio Chana, outside the former Bar Noir in Harehills, before it closed.
BAR BATTLE: Antonio Chana, outside the former Bar Noir in Harehills, before it closed.
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A FORMERLY troubled Leeds nightspot could be reborn as a “trendy eatery”, but the plan has already drawn a raft of objections from local families worried about alcohol-fuelled trouble.

The owners of Bar Noir, based in the Clock Buildings in Roundhay Road, Harehills, want to give it a new lease of life as a restaurant called ‘Mexi Khana Halal’.

The venue was closed to the public in 2010 following an application from West Yorkshire Police for a full closure order. The police have lodged no objection to the latest application subject to various conditions.

Businessman Antonio Chana, who also ran the previous establishment, told a panel of licensing officials that the new facility will operate as a health-focused family friendly cafe during the day, and a Caribbean restaurant in the evening. He also wants permission to serve alcohol until 2.30am on Fridays and Saturdays, and to play recorded music until 3am on those days.

However some people living nearby claim the new business will effectively be the same operation in a different guise, and will bring with it the same problems, which they say included loud music into the early hours, major parking issues and drunken anti-social behaviour including people urinating against their walls. They are demanding a midnight cut-off on all days.

One local, Waseem Manzoor, told the panel: “Our lives were made absolute hell. There are no other bars [in Leeds] that open that late in a residential area and there are reasons for that”.

A letter of objection presented to the panel said: “This is a disguised attempt by the owners to open up another Bar Noir, albeit with the addition of food being served and a new name. The real intent is to operate this as a bar/nightclub. The introduction of food is a guise and nothing more.”

Mr Chana told the panel: “We are not a bar or nightclub. We are a trendy eatery with good food. We have moved in a new direction, with an older clientele.”

He admitted the problems encountered ”years ago” were “horrendous” for locals, but added: “We put an action plan together and made arrangements to deal with the issues.”

He said following the improvements, the venue’s record had been unblemished, and dozens of one-off licenced events had been successfully held there with no problems.

Mr Chana told the hearing that there would be ample security and a members-only admittance policy for later-opening nights at the new venue, adding the music played would be “nothing ridiculously loud” and would be primarily jazz, Motown and 60s and 70s music of black origin.

The panel will report back with its decision on a later date.

PIC: Simon Hulme

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