Still image of three councillors on licensing panel.
Licensing panel members: Cllr Gio Spinella, Cllr Lorna Greenwood, and Cllr Jonathan Simpson. Image: Camden Council.

It is a terribly bad decision by a Camden Council licensing panel to allow a fast food restaurant and takeaway on Goodge Street to open until 2am.

There are around 50 homes above the ground floor shop units along Goodge Street between the junction of Whitfield Street and Charlotte Street.

Goodge Street is typical of many of the streets in Fitzrovia where a large residential population co-exists cheek-by-jowl with local businesses which are busy in the daytime and early evening but start to wind down after 10.30pm.

The presence of an eatery open until 2am will inevitably cause a noise nuisance just when people are going to bed.

Camden’s own licensing policy recognises that late night food premises “can attract large groups of customers who have come from pubs, bars and clubs in the area and who have consumed considerable quantities of alcohol. These customers can be noisy and cause disturbance in the area long after other nearby licensed premises have closed.”

The policy also states: “We must seek to ensure that our residents can peacefully enjoy their homes and environment whilst also encouraging responsible and positive business investment and economic growth.”

Many Goodge Street residents wrote in to object to the application and some addressed the councillors who would make the decision at the licensing hearing.

The Charlotte Street Association residents’ group argued that the application should be refused because allowing it would cause a public nuisance to people living nearby.

But councillors Gio Spinella, Lorna Greenwood, and Jonathan Simpson dismissed their concerns saying that many of the comments made were about “planning matters”.

Residents speaking at licensing hearings are laypeople and will often make some remarks outside of the remit of licensing policy.

Councillors should recognise this and concentrate on the aspects of the representations received that deal with concerns about the quality of life of people living nearby and assess these concerns against the council’s own licensing policy.

Councillors felt it was “significant” that both the Police and Licensing Authority had withdrawn their objections; but did not think it significant to give weight to the concerns of the many people living nearby.

Instead the three councillors focused only on the “planning matters” and failed during their deliberation to take into account the legitimate concerns about “public nuisance” and “licensing matters” raised by local people and their right to “peacefully enjoy their homes”.

Goodge Street residents have been badly let down by these councillors who have neglected to consider policy and have exercised very poor judgement in making this decision.

Linus Rees is editor of Fitzrovia News.