Stranges Lane too popular

HOT SPOT: Patrons enjoy a night out at the Stranges Lane opening three weeks ago.
HOT SPOT: Patrons enjoy a night out at the Stranges Lane opening three weeks ago.

Christchurch nightspot Stranges Lane is imposing entry restrictions amid police concerns about the size of crowds in the area.

Huge demand at the city's newest hospitality hub has surprised management since its opening three weeks ago, sparking the need for a plan to deal with long queues outside the High St premises.

Operations manager Tom Newfield hoped the introduction of an over-20s preferred patron policy, restricting membership to its loft bar on Friday and Saturday nights, and a priority access guest list would ease numbers.

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Christchurch police alcohol-harm manager Inspector Peter Cooper backed the moves after his staff became concerned about crowds gathering in the area.

"It's a good operational decision on their behalf. As the city has more and more venues like this open up and the crowds return, there are always going to be pressure points."

Cooper said there had been no major incidents around Stranges Lane but changes to access points and responsible crowd control could resolve some of the issues.

Newfield said Stranges Lane was small, with a 250-patron capacity across three bars - Orleans, Lower 9th Diner and Strange & Co.

Several nearby central-city events contributed to more than 1200 people passing through its doors on "a very chaotic but incident-free" Saturday night.

Although staff were communicating the waiting time to get in, some queued up to an hour.

"That's not ideal and not something we want to repeat," Newfield said.

"I would also like to personally apologise to those who have had to patiently wait in a queue over the past two weekends... we would love to see everyone all back, just perhaps not every single one of you and not all at once."

The social scene on Victoria St has been one of the first to be revived in post-quake Christchurch but residents have since complained of noise, vandalism, vomit and urination in the area.

Newfield hoped addressing crowd numbers would avoid disorder in the High St and Lichfield St area.

"I am also conscious that amenity and good order at the perimeter of our venue is an important consideration from a liquor licensing perspective, and that it is our responsibility to ensure that even guests who are denied entry to our venues for reasons of age or intoxication have a safe journey home," he said. A cover charge was considered but decided against.

The Press