Dereham nightclub owner reveals hopes for new venue

The Lounge, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

The Lounge, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

A Dereham businessman said he wants to open a new nightclub in the town centre, suitable for 300 party-goers.

Chris Mooney, owner of The Lounge on Norwich Street, is looking to buy a building in the Church Street area to re-locate his venue – and double its capacity.

This news comes after Mr Mooney submitted an application to Breckland Council's planning committee to convert The Lounge's current premises into two one-bedroom flats and a bedsit.

In the application, Mr Mooney says the nightclub, which has a capacity of 150 people, is 'no longer a viable business proposition' because of the economic downturn.

But he also says his failed bid to the council's licensing committee – made just four months ago – to increase the club's opening hours until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights, has damaged his business.

He said the new planning application to convert the current nightclub building into housing was exploratory, but if the right premises became available, he would want to be able to act.

'We just don't know what's round the corner,' he said. 'We are having a really good Christmas period, but we are a business and we don't know what will happen.

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'So if the building [I am looking for] comes up next month I want to have things in place.'

The licensing request refused in August brought objections from people living nearby and police officers feared it could lead to increased noise and drunken behaviour.

Mr Mooney said he has appealed the council decision and is still hoping to extend the club's opening hours in order to keep up with the competition in the town.

One neighbour of the club, Susan Cameron, 66, welcomed the application for it to be converted in to housing.

She said: 'We hear everyone coming out of the bar at night, the noise level is bad. And it's especially bad in summertime when we have our windows open.

'If it got converted in to three flats it would really be the best option for everyone.'

The Lounge remains open for business as usual.