Owners of a new “destination restaurant” set to open in a former studio and showroom on Euston Road are hoping the stars will be aligned and they can work with residents living above the premises, and nearby, who have voiced concerns about potential public nuisance from its operation.
Asian restaurant and bar Orion’s Belt has been given a licence by Camden Council, after a hearing on 5 January, for “on sales” of alcohol at 365 Euston Road in a large two-storey space backing onto Warren Street.
Orion’s Belt Limited applied last year to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises from noon to 11pm every day of the week. The new restaurant is expected to have a capacity of up to 200 customers.
Twenty-three representations originally opposed the application, including the Environmental Health responsible authority, the Police responsible authority, a local councillor, and a residents’ association.
Nineteen residents from Warren Street and Conway Street wrote to Camden Council about the application objecting to the proposal and expressing concern about noise nuisance from the premises, cooking smells, and extra traffic generated by customers using taxis and mini-cabs.
Some were concerned about possible increases in crime in the area and the cumulative negative impact of yet another premises serving alcohol, causing a change in the character to this part of Fitzrovia where a great many people live.
The Police responsible authority wrote to say the applicant “should be aware of the potential for thefts against customers by crime groups” who target public houses and restaurants, and warned about disorder from “intoxicated revellers”.
They subsequently withdrew their objection after the applicant agreed to a number of crime prevention measures to be implemented.
The Environmental Health responsible authority made an objection, raising concerns about the operation of the restaurant and asking for a number of additional conditions to control deliveries, waste disposal, and management of customers. These conditions were agreed and the objection was also withdrawn.
They also raised the issue of how fumes would be extracted from the kitchen and informed the applicant that a planning application would be needed for the installation of any mechanical plant.
Councillor Adam Harrison (Bloomsbury ward) expressed his concerns about the application and the potential impact on local residents.
“This is quite a sizeable unit, taking up much of one block and also comprising two floors, with the second being completely under licensed use if granted,” he wrote.
“The size presents a risk of large numbers of people gathering in this less commercial part of Warren Street (certainly less commercial in terms of hospitality venues).
“As well as the noise outside I would also be concerned about noise transference from the premises up into the residential properties above.
“The use is also likely (despite its very well connected location) to attract taxis and other vehicles, increasing traffic, pollution, noise at this location where little existed before,” he wrote.
The Charlotte Street Association, which reviews all licensing applications on behalf of residents, wrote in to detail their concerns.
“Warren Street and this immediate vicinity has one of the highest concentrations of residents in Fitzrovia, and is part of the long established residential community,” they said.
“It needs to be appreciated that these premises were previously offices or showroom, and thus, from the residents point of view in terms of quietness, were generally not used in evenings, or Sundays and Public Holiday days.”
They argued that the application should be refused. But if Camden were to allow it then extra conditions were needed to protect the quality of life of residents living above and in the nearby streets. They stressed the need to ensure the venue operates as a restaurant and not a bar.
The team behind the new eatery wrote to residents ahead of the licensing hearing to say that “Orion’s Belt will be an upmarket restaurant and not a bar or a takeaway”, with a maximum of 150 to 200 diners at any time.
“Despite the size of the premises, I do not wish to have a large number of patrons attending, the space will be open plan with a relaxed atmosphere” and “I am dedicated to preserving the quiet enjoyment residents have of their homes,” wrote a director of the company.
They said they want to work with residents, including those who live above the restaurant, to ensure they are not affected.
At the hearing, two residents addressed the panel to say they were worried about noise intruding into their homes from the activities of the restaurant including rubbish removal, customers leaving after 11pm and from drivers dropping people off and picking them up.
One resident highlighted concerns about security and was worried about customers having access to a residential staircase which is shared by the premises as an emergency exit.
Edith Lake, acting as an agent for the restaurant, said there are no plans for takeaways and there will not be any motorbike couriers congregating outside.
She told the licensing panel: “It’s a destination restaurant for people to eat at, and the management has been very careful and has a sensitive approach.”
People waiting for a table will be asked to wait inside and will be seated quickly. Those wanting a taxi will also be asked to stay indoors until it arrives to minimise disruption in the street.
Lake said people will be asked to leave via Euston Road and the communal staircase would only ever be used in an emergency if designated by a fire risk assessment. “We would be really quite strict about that,” she said.
Rubbish will be dealt with inside the restaurant; “bottling out”, or putting bottles out for collection, would not be later than 6.30pm. And there will be new soundproofing installed, she said.
The Charlotte Street Association told the licensing panel that it is “an unusually large restaurant” and that residents would suffer noise nuisance which they previously would not have been subjected to.
Lake said the applicants have set out a detailed dispersal policy and said they “recognise the importance of clearing the immediate vicinity of the licensed premises at the end of the evening, making sure that all our customers leave without causing disturbance or any other disorder.”
Customers will be banned from taking alcohol or glass away and the bar will stop serving 30 minutes before closing. People will be encouraged to leave gradually over that time.
“Customers will be asked to respect the neighbours and leave the venue in a quiet and responsible fashion.”
Signs will remind them and “any customers found loitering outside the premises will be asked politely to leave quietly.”
Camden’s Licencing Panel A — Cllr Shah Miah (chair), CllrSharron Hardwich, and Cllr Izzy Lenga — in their discussion before making a decision expressed concern that there was no seating plan submitted as part of the application, particularly as it was a large space which had the potential be noisy, especially directly below a large resident block.
However, they considered any noise would be minimised if the premises adhered to the proposed conditions, along with the applicant’s declared willingness to spend money on soundproofing.
They considered that the applicants had responded to concerns from residents and the responsible authorities to keep noise to a minimum. The fact that the menu was expensive and that there was an expectation for all patrons to be seated and taking a meal — except for 20 customers around a bar area — demonstrated that the premises would not be operate as a bar or pub, they concluded.
They reached a decision to approve the new licence but said it must close at 10.30pm on Sundays, rather than 11pm as requested, and attached a number of additional conditions to the licence, including dispersing customers leaving on foot along Euston Road and not Warren Street.
Licensing Panel A, Thursday, 5 January 2023, 7.00 pm – Camden Council.
Additional reporting by Linus Rees.