FETISH club plans have been turned down by Dudley planners once again, despite one councillor saying the applicant would "win hands down" if it went to appeal.

The fate of the Valhalla club, which would have catered for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and other minority groups, was decided at a Development Control Committee meeting yesterday (Thursday).

Although council officers recommended approval for the plan, which would have seen a distribution warehouse in Dock Lane converted into a social club and a photographic studio, some members thought it would be better situated elsewhere.

Councillor Asif Ahmed said: "I have no problem in terms of the activities but I don't think it is the right place for these activities to take place given the close proximity to residential homes."

He also had issues with the club being open until midnight on weekdays and 3am on Friday and Saturdays, adding: "There are fairly late opening hours so close to a residential estate and I am quite fearful of the impact that will have on local amenities."

His concerns were mirrored by Councillor John Martin, who added: "I don't have a problem with the LGBT community, of which I am one but I thought we have moved on, I don't think we should be doing our socialising behind closed doors."

The committee was told the club would have 12 car parking spaces available to members but Councillor Roger Scott-Dow had doubts that would be adequate.

Councillor David Vickers pointed out that people could make use of the car park at Dudley Leisure Centre, which was opposite the club and there was scope for on-street parking on Dock Lane as there were no parking restrictions.

Voicing his support for the application, he continued: "It is a social club not a night club and it is for private members only - they will not be turning up in fancy dress or being rowdy and making a noise.

"They are people who want a private meeting place and I see from the application that there are already people from local groups asking if they can use it. There is nothing wrong with this club at all.

"It will be a benefit to that area and will bring employment to the area."

Councillor Andrea Goddard agreed, saying she could not see a problem with passing the application.

Although he did not voice an opinion on the application, Councillor David Caunt said he would urge the applicant to appeal the decision if refused as they would "win hands down".

Committee chairman Qadar Zada: "This is not a moral debate and it is not a debate about where any of us think a particular community are entitled to use this building. I think the report and the application demonstrates to me there is a real need for this.

"Even if it wasn't located here it would thrive. In my heart I'm a supporter but in my head I can't see how a club with such limited parking space can run in this residential community.

"I've already expressed concerns in respect of the club being close to the leisure centre.

"I do feel we need more social clubs for all communities and for all interests but we shouldn't have them outside the town, they need to be in the town and part of the community, they shouldn't have to operate in side streets in former paint factory."

The vote was tied but Cllr Zada had the casting vote, leading to the application being refused.