London bar gets extra hours in landmark case

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: West end of london, London

A landmark licensing case has seen a London bar granted extended hours in the West End stress area. Fudge, on Bear Street, just off Leicester Square,...

A landmark licensing case has seen a London bar granted extended hours in the West End stress area.

Fudge, on Bear Street, just off Leicester Square, was granted a licence until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays, following an appeal hearing on June 14.

It is believed to be the first bar or pub to be granted an extension outside of regular hours in the area.

Westminster City Council operates the policy, similar to a cumulative impact policy, under the Licensing Act, meaning that any application for a new licence or variation are usually rejected, unless there are "exceptional" circumstances.

Under the terms of the policy, pubs and bar are limited to opening only during "core hours" - until 11.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays, 11pm Mondays to Thursdays and 10pm on Sundays.

Ferdy Konig, licensee of Fudge, said: "I'm happy with the outcome. It makes sense because having an 11 o'clock licence in London seems dated compared to the rest of Europe."

The bar's initial application was refused by Westminster licensing, but an appeal was subsequently won at Westminster Magistrates Court.

"We explained to them that the bar we have is mainly single women and couples and 50 per cent seated. We are an upmarket venue and serve cocktails rather than cheap drinks."

Among the reasons for magistrates granting the application were a low level of residents in the area and a voluntary reduction of the venue's capacity.

The bar had applied for extended hours during the week and a 2am licence for Fridays and Saturdays, but was eventually offered 1am.

Lawyers Poppleston Allen acted for Fudge in the case.

A spokesman for Westminster City Council said: "The Fudge Bar has been granted a licence to open until 1am on a Friday and Saturday night only. These premises are in the West End Stress Area where the City Council's policy is not to grant variations to allow pubs and bars to trade beyond midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.

"In this case, the applicants did agree to a number of conditions that address the underlying reasons for the Stress Area. The extended hours were granted on this basis as a recognised exception to policy. There will be no private entertainment at the venue and the bar's overall capacity has been set for the first time. This is 110 persons (including staff) with a minimum of 70 seated places. This confirms the nature of the venue as a lounge bar, predominantly for seated customers without entertainment.

"It is also important to note that the Licensing Sub-Committee refused to allow extended opening hours during the week and did not grant the applicant's initial request to open until 2 am."

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