View of Fitzrovia at night looking north.
Night shift. Despite the pandemic there are now more licensed premises in the London Borough of Camden than there were before Covid struck.

Camden Council is developing a strategy for the evening and night time economy (ENTE) and wants to hear from residents in a new public consultation and at engagement events it is running, including asking residents to take part in a Citizens’ Assembly.

In Fitzrovia, many commercial premises have changed use over the years with fewer shops, wholesalers and services on our streets; and a steady increase in the number of cafes, bars, and restaurants — with a shift from daytime to evening activity.

The council says the borough has “7,000 businesses that work after 6pm, including those within the arts, hospitality, and leisure sectors. These businesses employ around 100,000 people and make nearly £1billion yearly”.

Many of these commercial premises are licensed to sell alcohol or serve food late at night, and despite the pandemic hitting trade there are now more licensed premises than there were before Covid struck.

“Data from the Camden Licensing service highlights the fact that there were 1869 active premises licences in total [across the borough] at the end of March 2020, this figure had increased to 1968 active premises licences by late June 2021,” stated a report to the Licensing Committee in July 2021.

Fitzrovia News has published around 40 public consultation reports on licensing applications over the past 12 months in the neighbourhood. Many of these were successful new applications.

“In recent years, the impact of increasing night-time activity has seriously concerned some residential and business communities in the borough,” notes Camden’s Statement of Licensing Policy.

Many residents feel that Camden’s councillors on licensing panels are too quick to hand out permission for sales of alcohol at hospitality venues, particularly without restricting its consumption to customers who are seated and having a meal — something known as a “restaurant condition”.

Camden is also actively encouraging more outside eating and drinking despite residents’ concerns about increased noise nuisance in the evenings.

Earlier this year the council said it will use the “licensing team and business groups to promote the streateries [outside hospitality areas] to encourage take up and support new pavement licence applications”.

Residents have also expressed concern that “an alcohol-focused monoculture” has a negative impact on diversity where those who don’t drink — for a variety of reasons — feel excluded.

What many people enjoy about living in Fitzrovia is that the neighbourhood is busy and bustling during the daytime on weekdays, but is relatively quiet in the evenings and on weekends.

But this attractive balance of activity and relative tranquillity is increasingly being eroded by noise nuisance from venues and (illegal) out-of-hours construction work.

Residents — along with visitors, businesses, organisations, and workers — now have the opportunity to give their views to Camden in an online survey and via interactive maps.

Online survey: Have your say on Camden’s evening & night time.

Community events: Wednesday 2 November at Covent Garden Community Centre, 42 Earlham Street, London WC2H 9LA. Afternoon session: 2pm to 4pm; Evening session: 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

Take part in Camden ENTE Citizens’ Assembly. The Citizens’ Assembly will be held on: Saturday 18 February 2023, Saturday 25 February 2023, and Saturday 4 March 2023.