Mowbray baulks at liquor licence approval

A liquor licence has been conditionally approved for the Pizza Shed, in Long Street, Mowbray.

A decision to grant a conditional liquor licence to a Mowbray business, which is close to a creche and an educational hub for high school pupils, has met with stiff opposition from the community.

At the beginning of the month, the Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA) conditionally approved a liquor licence for the property, known as The Premises, at 7 Long Street, next to the Mowbray train station.

The Premises comprises a pizza restaurant, the Pizza Shed; a deli; and a cafe. According to the WCLA documents, the licence applies to two units at the premises. The Tatler asked the WCLA to clarify which of the three businesses this referred to, but it was unable to do so by time of publication.

The application notice lists Johannesburg-based LFA Properties as the applicant.

The Tatler was unable to contact the company or the attorney who drew up the application by time of publication.

Residents near The Premises received a letter from the WCLA on Monday February 14, saying they have until this Monday February 28 to lodge appeals.

Next to The Premises is the Association for Educational Transformation (ASSET) a non-profit that provides educational services to high school pupils. Also nearby is Explore and Discover Montesorri preschool; a CPUT satellite campus, in Highbury Road; and Thandokhulu Secondary School, 300 metres away.

Asset’s executive director, Busisiwe Maqubela, said their pupils did robotics and coding and having an establishment next door that served liquor would be a problem. “It will be a disturbance and with noise, it won’t be conducive to learning.”

Ms Maqubela said she had already seen high school pupils drinking near the train station, before the liquor licence issue had come up.

Yusri Adams, the secretary of the Mowbray Mosque, about 200m away in Queen Street, said they were “shocked” and had lodged an appeal.

“We do not share the sentiments of having a liquor licence at the restaurant,” he said. “We have a massive drug problem in the community, and liquor will contribute further to the problem.”

Mowbray Community Police Forum (CPF) chairman Jonathan Hobday said they had objected to the application because of the nearby creche.

“So we are disappointed to learn that the licence had been granted. We now call on the local Mowbray police and the inspectorate of the WCLA, as well as the relevant departments of the city council, to monitor closely the operations of this licensee.”

Rondebosch and Mowbray Civic Association (RMCA) chairperson Yves Ducommun said the application had been opposed twice by residents, but each time the applicant had appealed. “The RMCA supports the residents who have objected in 2020 and 2021 and shares their concerns as ratepayers.”

Mowbray resident Andre Bergh is worried that the liquor licence could lead to a downward spiral. “It may have an impact on crime, more people loitering in the area and an increase in homeless people setting up tents where the local traders are,” he said. All that would not be good for schoolchildren who walked in the area.

A long-time Mowbray resident, who did not want to be named, said there had long been bottle stores and bars in Main Road, but this application represented the creep of liquor-licensed premises into the suburb.

Ward 57 councillor Yusuf Mohamed said the liquor licence application for comment had been distributed last October before his election.

“As councillor, when I receive applications for comment, I take into account the surrounding areas and what the application is requesting approval for on its own merits.”

Liquor-licence applications from premises next to schools should be dealt with meticulously, he said.

“The surrounding area has a challenge with drug abuse, so it is extremely important that compliance and regulations are followed when liquor is involved.”

According to WCLA documents received by residents, the licence was granted on condition that a nominated manager get training at the WCLA and that trading hours be limited to 11pm.

WCLA, spokeswoman Rebecca Campbell said the onus was on an applicant to prove that a liquor licence would be in the public interest.

“Once the application has been submitted, the WCLA advertises it and the public have 28 days to comment on the application.” The applicant could then respond to any objections, she said.

When the Tatler called the Pizza Shed for comment on Friday February 18, we were told to email our questions, which we did immediately after the call, but the business did not respond to those questions or take any further calls from the Tatler.

Those wishing to appeal the decision to grant the liquor licence need to complete a form, known as a Form 29, which is available from the WCLA, and email it to Enquiries@wcla.gov.za. Call the WCLA at 021 204 9700 for more information.