The Licensing Committee looks to identify and resolve issues relating to the licensing of bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes in the Knightsbridge area. Typically these issues are: premises' opening and closing times, the placing of tables and chairs on the pavement and noise and anti-social behaviour. By working closely with local residents, ward councillors and neighbouring associations we determine the actions to be taken, including writing to the licensing committees of our local authorities (Westminster and RBKC) and if necessary attending licensing hearings. We are keen to maintain a balance between the legitimate interests of the hospitality sector and those of residents, many of whose quality of life has suffered as a result of the intrusion of the 'night time economy' into their lives. Meanwhile the 'daytime' economy of the area presents its own challenges, in particular the creeping 'cafe mon-culture' evident in Brompton Road and the loss of other retail outlets useful to residents. Our work can be complicated by the different processes and standards adopted by our two local authorities.

Our priority is to uphold the rights and amenity of local residents. We have supported councils in ensuring that their decisions are upheld (as in 2015, when we supported RBKC when McDonald’s appealed an extension of hours ruling) but equally, we have challenged them when we have felt that their decisions have been detrimental to our members' interests.

The Knightsbridge Association | KA | Tables and Chairs | Placement

Tables & Chairs

The placing of tables and chairs on the pavement outside cafes and restaurants has become an increasingly contentious issue in recent years. Firstly, the 'terminal hour' for the removal of these items has steadily moved later into the evening, such that many premises, in particular those around Harrods, now request 10 p.m. as a standard.

This can have serious consequences for people living above and nearby, as there will be loud conversation and laughter until at least 10 p.m., followed by the sound of tables and chairs being folded up and taken indoors. Visitors to our part of London sometimes forget that there are many people living in the vicinity who need to rise early the following day and work - Knightsbridge isn't just a party town. Furthermore, placing tables and chairs on busy pavements, adjacent to important thoroughfares such as the Brompton Road, can create obstacles for pedestrians, forcing them into the road and placing themselves at risk of being hit by motor vehicles. Consequently the KA pushes back strongly on applications to place tables and chairs on the pavement late into the evening in residential areas. We will also support individual residents and neighbouring residents' associations when they lodge objections.

The Knightsbridge Association | KA | Brompton Road | Planning White Paper

Planning White Paper

The Planning White Paper (‘PWP’) is set to introduce radical change to the planning landscape, one of which is highly relevant to licensing. Amongst other changes it proposes to amend the 1987 Use Classes Order through the addition of a new 'Class E', taking effect from 1 September 2020.

This will have a big impact on High Streets – including Brompton Road and other parts of Knightsbridge - by allowing interchangeability between retail, restaurant, office and professional services uses without the need for new planning consents. As a result local authorities, residents and their associations will lose an important check on the setting up of new business, leaving the licensing process as the only mechanism for representations (including objections) to be made. The London Forum of Amenity Societies, of which we are part, supports the principles underlying the PWP but has expressed concerns that residents’ interests are being subordinated to those of developers. Without effective planning controls the quality of life of those living close to new businesses could be at serious risk.

The Knightsbridge Association | KA | Terminal Hour

Terminal Hour

One of the issues that exercises the minds of the KA's Licensing Committee more than any other is the 'terminal hour' (closing time) requested by bars, restaurants, cafes and licensed premises in their applications to our two local authorities.

For many years this was 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. at the latest, but more recently the time has crept forwards such that it is not unusual for many premises, especially those around Harrods and on the Brompton Road, to request a terminal hour of 11p.m., Midnight or even later. As with the issue of tables and chairs on the pavement these extended hours can have serious consequences for the quality of life of local residents. This is primary concern for the KA but at the same time we recognise the intense pressures that businesses have had to face during the two Lockdowns in 2020 and are likely to continue to face in the future, as no doubt it will take time for customer footfall to reach pre Covid-19 levels, even once a vaccine has become widely available.

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Paul Meitner

As Knightsbridge has transformed into a night time destination, as well as a day time one, this committee’s work load has increased considerably. Every license application is scrutinised and representations (including objections, where appropriate) are lodged when we feel either that the objectives of the Licensing Act 2003 are not going to be met or that the quality of life of local residents is under threat. The committee also participates in an ongoing dialogue with Government and Local Authorities about how planning and licensing legislation can be amended to support the hospitality sector, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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