'Failing' nightclub near Surrey could close and be turned into flats after fatal stabbing

Reece Newcombe was found with serious injuries on Richmond Bridge at around 4am on November 26, 2022
-Credit: (Image: MPS)


A 'failing' nightclub near the bridge where dad Reece Newcombe was stabbed to death could be permanently shut down and turned into flats. Viva, on Hill Rise, is the only nightclub in Richmond and had its licence temporarily suspended by Richmond Council in December 2022 after the Met Police noted 'serious failings' by the venue on the night of Mr Newcombe's alleged murder.

Mr Newcombe, 31, was fatally stabbed with a piece of broken glass on Richmond Bridge at around 4am on November 26, 2022. Ross Hamilton, 33, of Wood Lane, Isleworth, was charged with murder and common assault on November 29. Mr Hamilton denied the charges at the Old Bailey on February 17, 2023, and his trial is due to take place on November 13.

Viva temporarily shut down following Mr Newcombe's death as its premises licence was suspended by the council from December 6, 2022, to January 20, 2023, so it could put in place measures recommended by the police. The council's licensing committee recognised the 'previous good history' of the venue, with no record of issues concerning the police, at a licence review hearing on December 20.

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David Charalambous, who has owned Viva since 1986, has now submitted plans to change the use of the venue into three flats and a shop, in an application unrelated to the previous licensing decisions affecting the premises. The club has operated since 1975.

The plans would see internal works carried out at the nightclub to provide a shop on the ground floor and three flats on the first floor. The second and third floors of the building, which are already occupied by two offices and two flats, are not included in the application.

A report submitted with the application revealed the nightclub is 'no longer viable' due to a drop in customers, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic, and reaches 'nowhere near' its 250-person capacity. It said: "It is not viable to continue to operate and an alternative use needs to be found. Noting the remaining uses elsewhere in the building, and adjacent, residential use is proposed."

The report said the 'closure of this failing late-night use' would have little impact on nightlife in Richmond as nearby bars 'which offer drinks, music and dancing are more popular with customers' and would remain open - including Be At One, Pitcher and Piano, Slug and Lettuce and So Bar. It added the plans would introduce much-needed housing 'in place of an underused and unviable nightclub, converting a heavily altered listed building in doing so'.

Mr Charalambous has also submitted a separate application for listed building consent to carry out the works, as the building is Grade II listed. Richmond Council will decide on both applications in due course.

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