A SAUNA has lost its bid for a late night drinks licence amid fears the move would lead to disruption for residents.
Chris Maher wanted a licence to sell booze until 1am four days a week, and until 3am from Thursday to Saturday at the Honeycombe Sauna in Egerton Road, North Shore.
But a council licensing panel refused the application on the grounds it was inappropriate in a residential area.
Councillors also raised concerns about the risk of mixing alcohol consumption with the use of sauna facilities.
Mr Maher said he wanted to have controlled drinking on the premises, which are currently open from 11am until 8pm and have a maximum capacity of around 180 people.
He told the town hall hearing that letters had been sent round the area claiming he wanted to turn the sauna into a sex club.
But Mr Maher said: “That is absolute rubbish. The Honeycombe has not had one single police incident recorded against it or any incidents of noise.
“The objectors have likened the premises to a pub, but it is a members-only club.
“I don’t want to run it as a venue where people can bring their own drink.
“I want to be able to control alcohol consumption.”
Mr Maher warned without a drinks licence the sauna could close, and said there was already late night noise in Egerton Road.
He added: “I am trying to save the business because with the revenue coming in at the moment it is just not viable.
“There is already hustle and bustle with people coming home from the nightclubs in town.”
Nine formal objections to the application were lodged with the council from residents.
Concerns included that it would lead to additional traffic, late night noise and loud music and it was feared the venue could be used as a sex club.
Claremont councillor Ivan Taylor, who spoke on behalf of some of the objectors, said: “This area is overwhelmingly residential with many elderly residents and families with children. These sort of opening hours, up until 3am, are what you would associate with a town centre venue.
“This would be a tremendous disruption and a kick in the teeth for the people trying to make their way in this area.”
Mr Maher has 28 days in which to lodge an appeal against the decision.