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Success for Manchester hybrid as prohibition notice is revoked

Published:  04 February, 2021

Blossom Street Social has been allowed to open again after a prohibition notice prevented the hybrid business from operating as a retail outlet.

Following the launch of an appeal by owner Ben Stephenson, Manchester City Council’s licensing team has reversed its decision, meaning the business can now operate as a shop during nationwide lockdown.

“We can confirm that the retail space will operate solely as an off licence, and will be separated from the bar/seating area [so] that all alcohol sold to customers coming onto the premises shall be in sealed containers only,” Stephenson said. 

Back in January, Harpers reported that Blossom Street Social had been left with no choice but to close its doors after council officials issued a notice which prevented all sales of alcohol on site.

In a letter fielded to Manchester City Council, Stephenson asked inspectors to “acknowledge that retail has always been at the heart of my business”.

The dispute appears to have rested on historic sales of food and drink in the premises.

“Even though on the day the regulations came into force, the company was not actually selling food and drink for consumption on the premises, it is the nature and general operating activity of the premises which is important,” a member of the council’s licensing team said.

However, the team has now said that it recognises a hybrid venue can operate solely as a retail space, and has now given licence for this part of the business to sell sealed alcohol.

“The mere fact that my client’s premises have on licences as well as off does not prevent them from trading solely the off licence part of their business,” Rebecca Ingram, representing Stephenson, at Kuit Steinart Levy LLP solicitors, said.