A DRINKS licence has been granted to the new Relax Coffee Lounge in Tudor Arcade, Dorchester.

Another business in the area had objected, concerned that it could change the nature of the area.

Councillors backed the request for the licence at a panel hearing in Dorchester on Tuesday, the first face-to-face meeting Dorset Council has held for more than a year.

The 80-cover business said it would like to be able to serve alcohol with its range of hot and cold meals between 11am and 11pm Monday to Saturday and 11am to 10pm on Sundays. The business is open for breakfasts seven days a week but is to only allow alcohol sales from 11am.

Applicant Philip Howlett told the panel the business would have CCTV in operation, that staff would be told to ask for ID if anyone looked under the age of 25 and customers would be encouraged to leave quietly.

An objection to the licence application said it was ‘beyond comprehension’ that Relax needed to sell drinks and that previous food outlets in the arcade had generally closed at 6pm.

Said the un-named objector: “It concerns us that this amount of people spilling out into the arcade between 11pm and 12am at night would be a recipe for alcohol-fuelled trouble and leave our workplaces extremely vulnerable to vandalism and window breakage,” said the letter to the Dorset Council licensing panel.

In response Relax said that it was unlikely to be anywhere near the 80-cover capacity in the evening as it intended to have less seating available to make it more comfortable for customers. On occasions it would also offer acoustic music which would further reduce the capacity.

“We plan it to be a relaxing venue, hence the name, and appeal to the more mature market and not the types suggested. Also all staff will be trained and advised not to serve drunk individuals as is required by law. We will not be providing take away alcohol so there should be no issue of litter. …We have a designated premises supervisor and also qualified licence holders who will ensure licencing regulations are adhered to fully,” said the company.

Its owner previously told Dorset Echo how the Café 'brings something different’ to Dorchester town centre when it opened in December 2020.