Residents of a Cornish town have described living next to a night-time venue as a “living hell” and a “nightmare”.

One said: "This was our first family home, a month later this opened, now we live in a nightmare.”

Representations on behalf of more than 30 people have been made to Cornwall Council’s licensing department in opposition to a bid by the MK Lounge in Bodmin to extend its opening hours until 1.30am on Saturday nights / Sunday mornings.

The cocktail bar on Omaha Road, which serves food and has live entertainment, currently closes at 12.30am on Saturdays/Sundays. The applicant also wants to change the description of the premises from a members’ club to a restaurant and tapas bar.

A report from a council licensing compliance officer says: “Bodmin does have a number of recent high profile reports of crime and disorder relating to the late night economy so it is important to consider the impact that this premises is likely to have on the area and how the licensing objectives can help to alleviate it.

“The applicant has not offered any new conditions, although the licensing compliance team can report that several complaints have been received from residents that live close to the premises. The first reports were received when the premises started to trade as the MK Lounge, as music was clearly audible for residents that weekend and remedies have been made by the applicants to reduce these occurrences.

“However, four separate residents have made complaints to the team from March 2023 onwards. One resident has continually complained and unfortunately has not found a suitable action to remedy this.”

The change of premises licence application will come before Cornwall Council’s licensing committee next Wednesday, April 10. The licensing officer has asked for further conditions to be considered, including MK Lounge staff monitoring the area for noise and anti-social behaviour, and a request that the bar’s beer garden closes at 10pm. Devon and Cornwall Police have also requested a number of additional conditions.

Former Army club

The MK Lounge was previously known as the Garrison Club, a social club which was associated with the Army garrison buildings originally built as a military depot for the Cornish Militia and Volunteers in 1859. The barracks were converted to a housing and industrial estate with the Bodmin Keep and Army Museum at one end of the campus and the MK Lounge at the other.

What were once Army buildings that housed the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry division are now listed buildings converted to homes. New houses have also been built on what were green spaces, divided from the MK Lounge by a garden fence.

The application has resulted in 14 letters of objection from 33 residents of Omaha Road and Royffe Way.

One wrote: “This application should not be accepted because on a regular basis we are witnessing both verbal and physical confrontations between customers of the establishment. This is evident with numerous cases of criminal damage to property and vehicles. Residents in the area feel they are unable to raise concerns with the persons involved in the disturbances due to fear of what may occur and what reaction they may get.

“The establishment is located within a residential area, this is forgotten due to the adjacent industrial units. However there are at least 50 houses located in a very close proximity that are directly affected by this application. These houses have been here longer than this building has been used for its current operation.”

'Passed out in doorway'

Another nearby resident added: “There are drunk people regularly arguing and screaming directly outside our bedroom window, due to it backing onto a public road/path. It’s a weekly occurrence for people to be shouting after 12 o’clock and we feel that the extended opening times will worsen this issue already.

“There have been many broken bottles and glass smashed on the path behind our house... I even had one occurrence of a passed out drunk individual in my doorway, blocking the only access into my home. This was incredibly distressing as I couldn’t wake them up or get them to move, causing me to phone the police to deal with it.”

Two more wrote to the council with their concerns. They said: “Ever since it has been MK Lounge the noise has ramped up, vehicles have been damaged, glass in the street as they use it to walk up through to the Eclipse [nightclub], sick in the street and general shouting, even fighting.

"There are lots of young children, elderly and working families that live in close proximity and to keep it open until 1am is unfair on those close-by considering what already happens with it closing at midnight.”

One person wrote to the council on behalf of a property company which manages 1 to 51 Royffe Way, stating: “The noise from the bar/lounge and the external seating/car parking area has caused problems on the estate for several years, which worsened from the time of Covid, after the external seating area was extended. This resulted in the necessity to erect a solid wooden fence against the perimeter of our estate to try and baffle the sound.”

The estate manager added that noise and anti-social behaviour “has led to some families with small children feeling forced to move out to get a good night’s sleep. The proposed extension to the licence will only exacerbate this situation”.

'We live in a nightmare'

One couple said that living near the MK Lounge “has been and still is a living hell for us and has caused us serious health problems due to continuous noise, particularly at and through the night and we are not the only people in our building experiencing this problem”.

And a man who represents nine households in Royffe Way said: “The application also mentions a name change indicating it is to become a restaurant. The request to extend the licensing hours seems at odds with the venue being food-based.”

Another neighbour who has written to the licensing department with concerns about noise said: “The fact this may now go on for even longer into the night is beyond a joke. This was our first family home, a month later this opened, now we live in a nightmare.”

Cornwall councillor Leigh Frost, who represents the Bodmin St Petroc division, supports the change of use application but objects to the extension of opening hours due to the MK Lounge’s close proximity to residential properties.

Owner response

Nuno Simoes, who owns the bar with wife Mikaela, said: “MK Lounge Bar has been always prepared to welcome any advice or demand from the Licensing Team from Cornwall Council, the local authorities and any person living close to MK Loung Bar that feels perturbed with nuisance and anti-social behaviour.

“MK Lounge Bar has never ignored any request or demand from anyone that expressed being unhappy. Most of the comments were completely new to us.

“Since we opened one year ago we have been working very closely with the Licensing Team to make sure we trade with minimum-to-none nuisance. We cover all aspects that could trigger conflicts and noise.

“Multiple signs in the premises asking customers to respect the neighbours when leaving.”

He said in place was a dispersal policy, Under 25 challenge, closed smoking area after 10.30pm, controlling the number of smokers to ten maximum, a sound proof dance floor, sound limiter in place and door supervisors – one to every 50 customers.

Mr Simoes added: “MK Lounge Bar has, without fail, managed to comply with turning the music off at midnight and have everyone out by the latest 12.30am.

“We see the night life as part of Bodmin’s development. The population needs places like this, managed personally, to be able to enjoy life and socialise during the weekends.

“Part of the reason for the application to be made was the several requests from our customers. We don’t see how one hour more, once a week, could possibly cause so much impact!

“In this industry, this extra hour will make an enormous difference for us as a business.

“In MK Lounge Bar we will continue to work with the community to embrace any concerns and always welcome local residents to pop in and have a chat with us.

“I truly hope that soon we can overcome all the objections as we honestly value a good relationship with all the local residents.”

A decision will be made on its application next week.