Plans to demolish the After Dark nightclub and turn it into six flats has been rejected by the council for a third time.

KK Property Investment, which owns the building at 112 London Street, applied to the council in October 2019 for planning permission to knock down the club and build six one-bed flats.

But council planners rejected the application, saying it would result in a “cramped, out of character and visually dominant overdevelopment” of the site.

After Dark manager Zahid Khan, who is one of the directors of KK Property Investment, said: “That is good news for the club, but the club’s biggest issue is the licence being revoked. That is crucial to the business.”

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The legendary Reading club is awaiting a court date for an appeal hearing on whether to uphold a decision by Reading Borough Council (RBC) to take away its licence.

Council planners had already twice previously rejected attempts to knock down the club and turn it into flats.

Planning officers said the latest plan was of “unsuitable standard” for residential accommodation and would have a significant detrimental impact on neighbouring resident properties in Nelson Mews.

The council decided in June last year to remove the club’s licence to “safeguard the public”, after Thames Valley Police raised concerns that the club was running “high-risk events” attracting customers with a “propensity for extreme violence”. 

Mr Khan has rejected these concerns, saying police have been called ‘just once or twice’ in the 17 years his family has owned the club and questioning why an R’n’B event would be considered high-risk.

Noise complaints were also a concern, with environmental protection officers at the council receiving complaints from a neighbour that music was being played too loudly late at night. 

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The After Dark was allowed to remain open until the court made its decision, but is currently closed after the coronavirus pandemic has forced all clubs, bars, restaurants and other venues to shut their doors.

Mr Khan said he is focused on managing the business and winning the court appeal against the decision, and that it was the decision of other members of his family to apply to knock down the club and turn it into flats.

The appeal was initially due to be heard on January 31 by a judge in Reading, who adjourned the case because two other criminal cases had to be heard on the same morning. 

A new hearing date was set for April 28 but the Covid-19 pandemic has caused further delay, with a new date expected to be announced next month.

Mr Khan said the After Dark, which he called “the best venue in Reading” and “very safe”, had now been given a ‘holding date’ of June 14 for a potential hearing.

He said the club should know more next month about what date the court hearing will be held.

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Mr Khan said the decision to revoke the licence was “so harsh” and “the truth will come out in the court hearing”.

But he added that the focus right now has to be on protecting the community from Covid-19 and said nightclubs are “a very unlikely thing for the next year or so”.