Applications for new shops in Dundee will face tougher tests for permission to sell alcohol after a new policy was agreed.
The plans, passed by Dundee City Council’s licensing board on Thursday morning, mean applicants for off-sales licences will now have to prove they won’t harm public health.
The new policy is aimed at improving the city’s public health after experts suggested the number of off-sales premises could be a factor in the city’s high rate of alcohol-related deaths and ill health.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the plan in June last year, before a public consultation was launched.
A majority of respondents agreed there were too many licensed premises in the city, leading to fear among those in the pub trade.
Figures show there are currently 143 on-sales premises in Dundee, 129 off-sales premises and 166 on and off-sales premises.
On-sales premises will not be covered by the new policy.
Licensing consultant Janet Hood, who represents many of the city’s pubs and bars, welcomed the move.
She said: “I’m pleased with the decision.
“A policy on over-provision for on-sales premises might have been dangerous for tourism in Dundee.
“I have concerns that the consultation may have gone out with the decision already made that over-provision already exists.
“I would think that the courts would require far greater proof that premises actually cause harm.”
Police Scotland said it was neutral on the policy while the Dundee City Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) supported the board’s decision.
A representative of ADP said: “Marketing, availability, and affordability are the key factors which influence alcohol consumption.
“Dundee is over-provisioned in terms of off-licenses therefore we believe this policy would make a significant difference to health in the city.”
Passing the policy after it was unanimously agreed by councillors, the board’s convener, councillor Stewart Hunter, said applications would still be considered on a case-by-case basis.
“Businesses can still come to us and argue their case,” he said.
“We can make exemptions. This does not mean Dundee is closed for business.”
The policy will not affect current applications made by new off-sales premises.
In 2016, the council tried to introduce a policy which meant any new licensed premises applications outside the Waterfront would be rejected unless they could prove they wouldn’t have a negative community impact.
It was thrown out after a court hearing in 2016 when Lidl successfully challenged the council’s decision to refuse to allow it to sell alcohol at its new store at Myrekirk.
Sheriff Kevin Veal said the council’s policy was “flawed” due to errors in a consultation in 2014.