Plans for a topless barbers in Norwich withdrawn

Unpopular plans for a topless barbers to open in Norwich's nightlife area have been withdrawn.

An application to change the use of the Qube Bar, in Prince of Wales Road, from a drinking establishment to a topless barbers had been made to Norwich City Council.

But the authority issued a decision notice yesterday confirming the application, submitted by Rebecca Bird, of Fakenham, has now been withdrawn.

More than 50 comments against the plan, which was to be situated next to the Railway Mission and two doors down from GT's barbers, were submitted during the public consultation.

A 35-name petition was also collected and presented to the council.

One city resident objecting to the proposal wrote: 'What next, half naked prostitutes in shop windows like Amsterdam? No thank you, not in my city! I'd be extremely angry if my partner went to those sort of barbers. If pathetic men want their hair cut by some tacky tart, let them go elsewhere for their cheap thrill.'

Luther and Rosanne Chaplin, of Hall Road, said they were 'shocked' by the proposal.

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They said: 'As belonging to the Railway Mission next door, we feel strongly that it would lower the moral tone of the street even further. It seems a horrible idea to have such a place accessible, especially during daytime hours.'

Professor Andrew Jordan, of Mount Pleasant, added: 'It would constitute a wholly inappropriate change of use and greatly detract from the other day time businesses that are currently plying their trade on the street.'

The suggested opening hours for the barbers were from noon until 7pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 3pm on Saturdays.

But in an e-mail to officers Allan Ivor Davison, leaseholder of Qube, said: 'I can confirm that I have not made any agreement with or to the current tenants to agree with this application, and nor has the landlord Mr Nven Fan Lau.

'It would not be in our interest to agree this change, when we have other tenants whose sole business is hairdressing in the immediate area, that are just managing to keep their businesses active.'

Angela Giles, of South Gage Close, Sprowston, said there were already enough strip clubs and pole dancing places in the city that 'objectify women'.

She said: 'A woman is submitting this application and fair game to her - an entrepreneurial idea - but she's not thinking about the damage that more men seeing women as sexual objects will do.

'It's not just harmless fun, it has consequences on society.'

During the consultation, Ali Pridmore, city council environmental protection officer, said: 'Although the above application is unusual and no doubt will attract some controversy, my main concern relates to the environmental health matters the main one being the noise levels when the 'topless barbering' takes place.

'In any case I have been informed by licensing that the application is to be withdrawn so the above is probably redundant. Should an application take place I would certainly want the level of any amplified music to be controlled.'

Peter Riseborough, the authority's health and safety officer, added there was little detail of this type of business for officers to work with.

He said: 'Existing guidance on controls is aimed at fully clothed individuals so the applicant will need to take care to see that controls are applicable to this operation.

'Dependant on the nature and extent of the hair dressing services that were offered one of the key controls i.e. protective clothing might well be at odds with the basic theme of the operation.

'Anecdotal evidence suggests that the shorter hairs produced during dry barber cuts may prove to be an irritant and indeed washing with shampoo and other treatments using chemicals have in the past been associated with dermatitis of the hands.'