Hackney councillors voted unanimously that new venues must close at 11pm on weekdays and 12midnight on weekends, three years after the policy was first proposed. Venue owners can apply for a licence extension if they can prove longer hours would not disrupt the area. Existing licences would be unaffected.
Councillor Emma Plouviez, chair of the council’s licensing committee, said the policy struck a balance between supporting the night-time industry and residents of the borough.
She said: “We’re a small borough, with high density housing and very popular bars, restaurants and nightclubs, and that brings about tensions that are hard to manage without guidelines in place to help licensees and residents alike.”
The councillor said the policy was not a blanket ban and argued new businesses could still thrive under the policy.
'Pressures on the area'
Cllr Plouviez added: “The core hours recommended in the policy set out the basic hours that a business can expect to get a licence for, however they may be able to open later.
“The onus will be on new applicants to demonstrate to us that they are responsible, understand the pressures on the area and that their business will not have a negative impact on the area if they want to open late.”
The policy was criticised by residents, who said the move “will leave an area like Shoreditch as sterile and soulless as Leicester Square,” in an open letter by the We Love Hackney group.
Consultation from Hackney council last year showed 84% of residents surveyed were against the new curfew times.
It has also been criticised on social media by those in the industry.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive for UK Hospitality, tweeted her disagreement with the policy.
She said: ''Sorry but it does affect existing businesses if new innovative and vibrant investment is deterred by restrictive policy.'' https://t.co/UVdhQ9HGzm
— Kate Nicholls (@UKHospKate) 19 July 2018 She said: “Sorry but it does affect existing businesses if new innovative and vibrant investment is deterred by restrictive policy.”
A spokesperson for UK Hospitality added: "Hackney Council’s decision runs counter to the Mayor’s vision for a 24-hour city and plans to stimulate the night-time economy in London.
"The decision will stifle innovation and make Hackney’s night-life much less dynamic and attractive. The actions of the Council also run counter to the wishes of the vast majority of residents who opposed the measure.
"Hackney's late-night businesses are diverse, innovative and vibrant, but this action by the Council will only put unnecessary pressure on them."
Alex Kapranos, singer of the band Franz Ferdinand, tweeted to say the decision would “rip the soul out of the area”.
Very disappointed with proposals from @hackneycouncil to cripplingly restrict licensing hours and conditions.
It will rip the soul out of the area and is overwhelmingly opposed by local residents.
— alex kapranos (@alkapranos) 18 July 2018
Jonathan Downey, founder of the borough’s night markets, said the views of residents had been “completely ignored” and that the policy “doesn’t make any sense.”
I still can’t believe that Hackney Council has approved its disastrous new licensing policy. It’s like waking up to find out Donald Trump has won the Presidential election. It can’t be true. It doesn’t make any sense.
— Jonathan Downey (@DowneyJD) 19 July 2018