Express & Star

Decision over restaurant’s 4am plan put on hold to give owners time to install fire alarms

The owners of a Cape Hill restaurant have been given more time to make their venue safer in the face of concerns from the region’s fire service.


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The owners of De Vibez Lounge in Cape Hill, Smethwick, had requested to extend their opening hours as well as sell alcohol and play music until the early hours.

A licensing hearing was held by Sandwell Council into the request.

But councillors agreed to give the restaurant more time after they were told the work to install the fire safety equipment had started.

The council’s licensing committee met in Oldbury on June 5 and was expected to make a decision on the application.

The hearing was held after the West Midlands Fire Service raised an objection which said its safety officers had found no fire alarms or detectors when they visited the Cape Hill restaurant.

The African restaurant opened in the former Sampson Lloyd pub in December last year and recently applied for a late-night licence to open until 4am at weekends. The application also asks for permission to sell alcohol between 11am and 11.30pm from Monday to Thursday and 11am and 11.30pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The venue also wants to play recorded music between 11am and midnight on weekdays and 11am and 4am at weekends.

The proposed opening hours are 11am to midnight between Monday and Thursday and 11am to 4am from Friday to Sunday.

The fire service said an alarm system needed to be installed and the artificial plants removed “as a minimum” before the objection could be removed.

The fire service also said the applicant did not turn up for a planned visit and a supplied phone number “seemed to be incorrect".

The fire service said records showed that the restaurant “may not have been accepted under a building regulations application for public use".

“The premises may also require planning and listed building consent,” the fire service added. “Records also indicate that some fire safety concerns, which were previously raised by [Sandwell Council], may not have been fully addressed.

“The premises will need to be fitted with a suitable automatic and manual fire detection and alarm system,” the fire safety officer said. “The flammable artificial plants should be removed from the walls and the floors, wall, and ceilings of both lobbies.”

The former Wetherspoons pub on the corner of Cape Hill and Waterloo Road had sat empty for several years after the budget chain left in 2014.