Police lose licence battle against Finsbury Park theatre

The stage is set for a new �2million theatre in Finsbury Park after its late night bar was given the go-ahead by town hall licensing chiefs – despite police objections.

The Park Theatre, in Clifton Terrace, which already has planning permission, was granted a 2am alcohol licence for Fridays and Saturdays after seeing off opposition from Islington Police.

Det Supt Adrian Usher had called for the hours to be cut back after raising fears the playhouse “will cause further policing problems in an already demanding area”.

But councillors rejected his pleas after a groundswell of support from residents, businesses and politicians, including Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn.

Jez Bond, the theatre’s artistic director, said: “The police were very much against us – they were the pantomime baddies if you like. They could not see the bigger picture, but thankfully councillors did. ”

The theatre will comprise a 200-seat main auditorium, a 90-seat studio and a caf�-bar split across two levels – and could bring a welcome cultural boost to the area.

Mr Bond said the bar will be open to anyone, not just ticket holders. He added that it will be run as a social enterprise, with all profits ploughed back into the artistic programme and education projects.

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“We’re not planning on running club nights everyday,” he added, “but the late hours are a crucial part of our business plan.

“You don’t make money on the sort of food we’re doing, so we need to sell drinks to make money. We need to look for every possible source of sustainable income so we can have a viable business.”

Cllr Wally Burgess (Labour), who chaired the licensing committee, said: “We were pleased to grant them their licence. The only issue was people being released onto the streets of Finsbury Park at one or two in the morning.

“The answer to that was that people coming from the theatre will be highly unlikely to be anti-social. It should be a boon to the area.”

The Park Theatre is set to open in summer 2012, after a large-scale renovation of its premises is complete.