Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Kilkenny lapdancing club to close because of 'material change of use'

A LAPDANCING club is to be forced to close until it gets proper planning permission to operate.

An Bord Pleanála has ruled that the opening of a “gentleman’s club” in Kilkenny city does not come under the remit of a pub licence and therefore constitutes a material change of use.

The ruling yesterday means that the owners will have to go through the public planning process and face third-party objections to their application.

The board’s judgment will have significant implications for local authorities across the country.

Whispers lapdancing club, now called Secrets Gentleman’s Club, opened in the Widow McGrath’s pub on Parliament Street, Kilkenny, in January 2008 and received a full bar licence from the courts last September. For the last year the club has offered pole-dancing and lapdancing from €30 by 15 women working at the club.

Concerned councillors and city officials opposed the club and asked the planning broad to consider whether “the use of an existing public house as a lapdancing club constituted a development or not”.

Local councillor Seán Ó Hargáin expressed “cautious delight” at the board’s ruling yesterday.

“I am glad to see that this kind of club does constitute a development and that they require a change of use through the planning system.”

John McCormack, head of planning with Kilkenny local authorities, said they would be enforcing the planning and development laws in relation to the club.

“We will be acting on complaints from members of the public about lapdancing taking place at the premises and expect the owners to comply with the board’s ruling.”

The club owners, who last night said they were unaware of the ruling, will be entitled to continue trading as a pub under their current licence.

However, if lapdancing continues at the premises, the local planning authority will be in a position to take enforcement measures that would include seeking a court injunction to have the entire premises closed.

The planning board’s ruling stated that “the use of the building as a lapdancing club is materially different from the activities generally associated with a public house”.

Irish Times

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