An application to operate an off licence on ‘Smelly Alley’ was refused after councillors concluded that the owner failed to grasp licensing policy.

Mr Arjeet Singh Chopra, who has already opened ‘Union Food and Wine’ at the former Dudman's of Reading greengrocers, was unable to accurately explain several licensing policies and conditions, including challenge 25.

Thames Valley Police officer Declan Smyth raised concern that licensing a shop so close to the lively Friar Street would increase pressure on the police.

There are currently no licensable business on Union Street, also known as ‘Smelly Alley’, other than an internet café which sells small quantities of alcohol on site.

The narrow alley is in the Cumulative Impact Area (CIA), a policy which aims to mitigate the potential impact of a significant number of licensed premises concentrated in one area.

This means applicants must ‘rebut the presumption’ that granting them a licence would negatively impact on the area.

Licensing officer Richard French said: “There is not even a mention of the CIA so I’m not sure how it can be assumed that the presumption has been rebutted.

“We are here to prevent and deter. There is nothing we have heard today that has convinced me that the licensing objectives would be promoted.”

Mr Chopra accepted all conditions suggested by the representatives from the council’s licensing team and Thames Valley Police in the event of the committee approving the licence application.

Additional conditions were put forward by his legal representative Duncan Craig, but Mr Chopra was not able to explain them.

When asked how he would enforce Challenge 25, Mr Chopra answered that he would check ID to make sure customers were over 18 but did not mention checking anyone’s ID who appeared 25 or under.

Mr Chopra said he considered 9 per cent to be a ‘strong’ beer or cider but the council’s RtS initiative, which the applicant sought to implement, states more than 6.5 per cent to be ‘strong’.

RtS is a voluntary initiative to try and reduce the availability and sale of high strength beers and cider above 6.5% ABV.

Mr Chopra, speaking after the hearing, said: “I am going to review the situation. I am not looking to appeal at this stage.”