Plans to turn a historic Gloucester hotel into a sex club have been backed by council officers. They have said moral issues should not affect planning policy.
The application by Mystique to transform the New County Hotel in Southgate Street into a private members' bar, aimed at gay people and swingers, will be discussed by the city council's planning committee on Tuesday.
Senior planning officer Mike Gethin has recommended the project is given the go-ahead.
He said the application, which would see the Grade II-listed building operate as a restaurant during the day and a private members club at night, would add vitality to the city: This application has been carefully assessed and it is considered that
its determination cannot be based on moral issues because they are not planning matters .
Three letters of objection have been received by Gloucester City Council about the plans. They raise concerns over noise and whether a private members' club is suitable for Gloucester city centre.
A spokesman for Mystique, based in Quedgeley, near Gloucester, said: The ballroom will lend itself to high energy nights for gay parties and swinging couples on rotating weekends.
There will be elaborate themed evenings of entertainment, which will give you an opportunity to dress outlandishly.
"Upstairs on the first floor the open playrooms will be themed in popular styles such as Arabian nights, mirrored room, gothic room and a fetish room for adult enjoyment in a controlled clean environment.
The company which hoped to set up an LGBT sex club in Gloucester's city centre has said it will demand a public inquiry after the plans were rejected.
Developing company Mystique hoped to turn the Grade-II-listed New County Hotel in the city centre into a restaurant by day and a sex club by night.
A spokesman for the firm told the Gloucester Citizen: When asked to declare their interests, the planning committee should consider their religious beliefs and step down if they believe their faith will dictate the outcome. I will be demanding a
public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the refusal.
Although councillors was instructed not to vote upon moral grounds, Susan Johnson, who spoke to the council on behalf of opponents, invoked Biblical language when addressing the planning meeting. She said: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil
is that good men do nothing.
It was rejected on the puerile grounds that the city centre was an unsuitable location for the venue. [Is that the best they could come up with?]
Plans to transform a Gloucester hotel into a sex club are to go ahead - despite having had planning
permission denied last month.
The proposals will see the New County Hotel in Southgate Street become Club Mystique.
The club will offer both gay nights and swingers' nights, and will include themed playrooms on the first floor. The ground floor of the hotel will become a restaurant specialising in vegetarian food.
Planning permission for the project was denied controversially at Gloucester City Council's planning committee last month. Councillors voted against the plans, claiming the hotel was not suitable for a city centre location.
However, the company behind the plans has taken legal advice on the matter, and say they are now pressing ahead with the transformation. A spokesman for Mystique's said; We have taken legal advice, and as it turns out, we did not require any
planning consent for change of use and it was a complete waste of time causing unnecessary delays.
Councillor Mary Smith (Labour), had slammed the decision to deny planning permission to the club, saying she felt the committee had voted on moral grounds rather than on planning grounds. She said: If that is the law, fine, we will keep a close
eye on the hotel and I am sure it will not prove as problematical as some have suggested it will be.
Mystiques Hotel & Restaurant, the former New County Hotel in Southgate Street, has welcomed its first guests.
According to the club's Facebook page, the venue is aimed at those with alternative sexual lifestyles . The club is offering both gay nights and swingers' nights.
A spokesman for Gloucester City Council confirmed the opening. He said: Mystique has opened. They have a drink, entertainment and late night refreshment license.
An application to create a lifestyle hotel on the site – with fantasy rooms and an adult-themed restaurant – was rejected by Gloucester City Council earlier this year. However, the company behind those plans, Mystique, has now opened the private members
club at the hotel, believing planning permission is not a legal requirement for the project.
Gloucester city councillor Gordon Taylor (Con. Abbey), voted against the plans to turn the building into a sex hotel. He said the club was in the wrong place, adding: We are trying to redevelop that area and there are a lot of families walking by and
we don't want a sex venue there. It is the sort of establishment that should be down Eastgate Street. I'm really disappointed that they have managed to get around the decision we made to turn it down. There may be a law change coming in within the next
12 months where there might be some scope to challenge it again.
Gloucester's former New County Hotel, renamed Club Mystique, was changed to a venue for people with alternative sexual
lifestyles last year.
But it has now closed just five months after opening – sparking rumours whether it will be closed for good.
Club Mystique boss Harry Sykes last night confirmed the hotel was currently closed after shutting on Tuesday. He refused to give any further comment to The Citizen.
The news has been welcomed by some members of the Gloucester community, who fought against the opening of the new unusual venue in Southgate Street last year.
Mark Jones, a leader at the City Church of Gloucester said: There are those who have been praying for it to close. I'm very pleased. With all the work they're doing to improve the area down there, it would seem to be a timely closure.
Gloucester city councillor and a member of the planning committee Gordon Taylor said: It's good news. If you're running a business, you need to have the trade, and I think it was in the wrong place for the sort of market they were aiming for.
The pub landlady Karen Murphy has won the latest stage of her fight to air Premier League games using a properly paid up
foreign satellite TV service.
Karen Murphy previously had to pay nearly £ 8,000 in fines and costs for using the cheaper Greek Nova TV service in her Portsmouth pub rather than the expensive service provided by the Premier League and
But she took her case to the European Court of Justice who now say that national laws which prohibit the import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards are contrary to the Treaty of Rome and the freedom to provide services across EU borders.
The decision could trigger a major shake-up for the Premier League and its current exclusive agreements with Sky Sports and ESPN.
However, whereas the decision opens up opportunities for individuals to watch overseas broadcasts at home, it remains unclear whether games can be shown in pubs using foreign services, as the ruling also threw up a number of copyright issues.
It seems to be a situation somewhat analogous to playing copyright music at home or at a business premises. CDs can be freely bought and sold from shops across the EU, but businesses still need a licence to play that music in their premises to a
However the judgement be very helfpful to private individuals, especially expats, wanting to subscribe to foreign services.
The ECJ said national legislation, which banned the use of foreign EU TV services, could not be justified either in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by the objective of encouraging the public to attend
football stadiums .
However the court has ruled that although there is no copyright in the matches themselves, there is copyright in the branding around the football - the Premier League graphics, music and highlights. If those are there, pubs will still need
the League's permission to show its matches.
It's now up to the UK High Court to interpret today's ruling, and that is not likely to happen for several months.