PLANS to serve alcohol in a coffee shop which is turning into a restaurant would be “unacceptable” because it could encourage anti-social behaviour, say neighbours.

Allowing Pelicano House to serve alcohol and open later would keep children awake at night and mean a rise in crime in and around Sydney Street, Brighton, they said.

Councillors will decide at a meeting on Wednesday whether to grant the coffee shop a licence to serve drink every day from noon until 11pm.

Pelicano at present opens between 9.30am and 7pm roasting coffee from around the world.

It wants to transform into a restaurant seating up to 60, papers submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council said.

But the North Laine Community Association has called on councillors to refuse the application.

Members Sandy Crowhurst and Roy Skam said selling drink would be “unacceptable” because it would mean noise from the back of the premises would “infiltrate” nearby homes above shops and in Trafalgar Mews.

In a letter submitted to the council, they feared the noise made would keep people – particularly children – awake until 11pm.

The pair said residents already have problems caused by the number of licensed premises in the area, claiming there are already 72, including five in Sydney Street.

The letter said: “Since the introduction of flexible opening hours in 2003, North Laine residents have had to put up with increased levels of noise from drinkers during the day and late at night, plus increased levels of anti social behaviour and vandalism.”

It added there were numerous cafés in the area which ran successfully without selling alcohol.

In another letter, Peter Crowhurst, of Kensington Place, Brighton, said the North Laine was “saturated” with licensed premises and claimed this has resulted in an increase in “crime and disorder, public nuisance and harm to children”.

He said there had been seven applications for new licensed premises so far this year and there were already 12 in adjacent Trafalgar Street and six in Gloucester Road.

Citing research, he said the area was ranked the worst out of all the city’s council wards for criminal damage and police had been called to deal with alcohol-related incidents

He urged the committee to consider the impact the decision would have on the “quality of life” of residents and refuse the application.

Lizzie Deane, councillor for the St Peters and North Laine ward, echoed the concerns and called for the application to be rejected.

She said residents suffered “many years of alcohol related disturbance and nuisance”, adding: “Those with children cannot be expected to wait until 11pm to get them to sleep, which would be the case if this application were to be granted.

“Pelicano House is currently a successful and highly popular coffee house, specialising in roasted coffee beans, tea and cake.

“I can see nothing in their offer to suggest the application can satisfy restaurant or café bar conditions. “

Sussex Police proposed 12 conditions in order for the licence to be accepted.

These include insisting drinks can only be served as part of a meal at a table and that CCTV should be installed.

Chief Superintendent Lisa Bell said the conditions would help “mitigate potential incidents” for an “extremely busy” part of the city centre.

Paul Jones, licensing consultant for the applicant, said all the conditions proposed by police would be accepted.