CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new adult entertainment venue in Colchester town centre have been stopped in their tracks after a licence application for the premises was rejected.

Ian Saunders’ bid to secure a sex entertainment venue licence for the Embassy Suite, in Balkerne Hill, was turned down by the licensing sub-committee after a meeting on Wednesday.

Mr Saunders’ has planning permission to convert the premises into Solo Summers, an adult cabaret venue, in honour of his late wife Solo Saunders, 44.

However, committee members rejected his bid to secure a licence following a heated meeting where objectors spoke out against the plans.

One objector, a nearby resident, said: “We get a lot of anti-social behaviour from St Mary’s car park.

“I find it very frustrating as I have two young children and our house backs on to there.

“The other side of the car park is the venue. Anything which increases anti-social behaviour worries me.

“It is bad enough trying to get the kids to sleep when things like that are going on.”

Another said: “Charles May House is feet away from the site. It is home to elderly residents of a sheltered housing scheme.

“Some of them are vulnerable and they are within eight feet of the building. I think Colchester can do better.”

Mr Saunders told the meeting there were misconceptions about the plans for the business which had created some of the concern.

He said: “We are definitely not a sex club, we are not a strip club or a gentleman’s club, but we do wish to apply for a sexual entertainment venue licence for certain aspects of what we are offering.

“It is unfortunate for bachelor and bachelorette parties we do require a sexual entertainment licence.

“I believe the empty building is the right location. It is within the cultural quarter near the theatre and the arts centre. We would classify ourselves as the adults entertainment venue.”

He added: “I think we will bring something to Colchester which hasn’t been done before and the way I see it as an icon of Essex. I believe it will bring people into the town.”

Committee chairman Dave Harris said: “There was a very thorough debate at the meeting and we gave the objectors and the applicant every chance to be heard.

“Our decision is all about us not believing it to be in a suitable location for the type of business.”

Mr Saunders can appeal the decision at court.