Office space for Dunstable's Club Cookies? Developers seek 'flexible' use of ex-nightlife spot

Developers are seeking to call time on Dunstable’s most prominent nightclub spot after coronavirus and “challenging market conditions” made its future uncertain.

Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 6:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 7:01 pm

Club Cookies closed after nine years on February 16 last year and landlords of the Grove Park unit have struggled to find a new tenant.

Now, applicant Rodd Properties Ltd has applied to Central Bedfordshire Council for planning permission to allow office space “flexibility” at the site.

In a planning statement, agent A&G Planning & Development said the UK nightclub sector was shrinking six per cent each year, with 25 per cent of clubs closing over the past decade.

Club Cookies in Grove Park closed last year

A&G stated: “Challenging market conditions have been further compounded by Covid-19.”

The application was supported by a letter from chartered surveyors Stimpson Eves, who added: “We assume this sector will encounter great difficulties going forward in respect of Covid-19 and the need for social distancing.”

Stimpson Eves managing director Giles Ferris wrote that nightclubs typically require refurbishment “approximately every two years” and there had been rejected offers from would-be club owners.

Mr Ferris stated: “We have received the usual expressions of interest from local covenants, who have seen the details and think running a nightclub would offer them a new direction.

“One such prospective tenant wanted to trade as a Shisha bar but the applicant had no prior experience and was working as a bricklayer.

“Another stronger applicant was an agent acting for a national restaurant chain, but they concluded the premises did not have sufficient frontage to a prominent highway.

“Operators who have no experience in this sector or financial wherewithal to invest and reinvigorate a nightclub of this nature are therefore – justifiably – swiftly rejected as I have no wish to have to repossess the premises and re-market them again in six months time when the occupier fails.”

Club Cookies was a favourite nightclub spot for young people from Dunstable and Luton. Over the years, its operators spent over £250,000 on bringing live acts and renowned DJs to Dunstable.

But the site also had its share of anti-social behaviour problems.

In 2015, it was notably the scene of a “one punch” attack that left 24-year-old Tomas Juska dead and his attacker Cortney Batchelor jailed for four years.

The case received national media attention and was featured in an episode of the Channel 4 series ‘24 Hours in Police Custody’.

Central Beds Council are expected to reach a decision on the application by July 17. The plans can be viewed on CBC’s planning website under the reference ‘CB/20/01653/FULL’.