London needs "an active 24-hour licensing regime”

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Nighttime: Extending venue opening hours, 24-hour licensing, and making use of empty spaces for cultural activities were among the London Nighttime Commission's recommendations
Nighttime: Extending venue opening hours, 24-hour licensing, and making use of empty spaces for cultural activities were among the London Nighttime Commission's recommendations

Related tags: London, Licensing

London “needs to have an active 24-hour licensing regime” in light of the closures of many bars and clubs, a new report has recommended.

The London Night Time Commission, appointed by the Mayor of London,​ said nighttime should be made a priority for policymakers across the city.

European venues which are “recognised as national cultural destinations for locals and tourists alike", such as Berlin’s exclusive Berghain nightclub, should be looked to, the commission concluded.

A new report, titled ‘Think Night: London’s neighbourhoods from 6pm to 6am’​ made 10 recommendations including conducting research into longer opening hours and a late-night transport working group to ensure the city’s 1.6m night workers’ safe travel.

Empty spaces

Retail units or cultural spaces which are usually empty come dusk could be used to host pop up bars and restaurants at night in a bid to aid struggling high streets.

Public art exhibitions and performances could also encourage spending in these hours. Parks, museums, and libraries could also offer evening events and extended hours, to further encourage the nighttime economy, the report said.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the city’s nighttime economy​ was essential to its economic success but had been viewed as an afterthought.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, (image: US Embassy London)
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, (image: US Embassy London)

“I’m determined that London is a city that works for all, 24-hours a day, and that’s why I’ve been working hard to champion the nighttime economy and asked the Night Time Commission to help realise our ambitions,” he said.

Local visions

A London Night Time Data Observatory should be created to centralise data on the economy, transport, licensing, infrastructure, safety and health, to inform policymakers, the report suggested.

Kate Nicholls, chair of the commission, said every borough should outline a positive vision for their local economy.

“We can extend the opening hours of our traditional cultural offerings to reach more Londoners and we can bring underused spaces to life at night and help tackle the decline of our high streets,” she said.

John Timothy, chief executive of the Portman Group​, whose research found that 92% of councils believed the nighttime economy could prevent the decline of high-street retail, said it shared the view partnership working was crucial.

More than a third of Londoners find it too expensive to go out in the nighttime economy, according to a report commissioned by the Greater London Authority and published last year​.

10 recommendations in full

  • The night should be made central to policy making by incorporating a night test for all new policies to rate their impact on culture, sociability, wellbeing and economy after 6pm.
  • Guidance to help boroughs develop strategies for their town centres at night.
  • A data hub to inform boroughs, including information on transport, licensing and safety.
  • An annual report to measure progress of the Mayor’s 24-hour-city vision.
  • A night-time enterprise zone fund, for which areas can bid for funds to develop their offers.
  • Research to establish the case for extended opening hours.
  • New partnerships to make London at night more welcoming.
  • Guidance to help boroughs and land owners make welcoming, safe and vibrant nighttime public spaces.
  • A late-night transport working group to ensure employees can get to and from work quickly and safely.
  • Promotion of the city’s nighttime offer to Londoners, highlighting what events are currently available

Related topics: Licensing law

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