Crossrail is drilling a new shaft on the site of the ramp down from Charterhouse Street, over the next eight weekends, starting on 13/14th April. Full details can be found here.
The work is to set up “compensation grouting” shafts which will stabilise the ground when the tunnelling machines arrive.
There was a lively discussion of the technique at the last Crossrail Farringdon Community Liaison meeting. It involves creating a network of small 60mm shafts underneath buildings and land but above the tunnel itself. Computers (and the laser detectors now installed all over the area) monitor the settlement of the land as tunnelling takes place, and pump grout – a mixture of cement and sand – into the appropriate shaft, thus, the theory goes, limiting settlement to acceptable levels.
There will be weekend closures of Charterhouse Street, 24/7 working, and the periodic appearance of a 150-tonne crane. This will therefore be happening at the peak time for the clubbing activities in the street. Interesting!
There is a dedicated phone line for Crossrail inquiries: 0345 602 3813.
The Community Liaison Panel meets every couple of months usually in the Goldsmith’s Centre and is an opportunity for local residents to discuss with senior Crossrail staff any issues arising from the project.
Sainsbury’s intends to open two local supermarkets in St John Street. One, at 301 St John Street (at the junction with Myddelton St) has received all the permissions it needs and now Sainsbury’s is applying for a second one at No 91-93, just south of the junction with Clerkenwell Road.
Neither of these needed planning permission for the change of use itself (in the latest case, from the former “Larder” bar) as both buildings were given dual A1/A3 retail planning use when they were built. But at 91-93, Sainsbury’s are applying for permission for changes to the shopfront, the placing of refrigeration and air-conditioning plant at roof level, the placing of a cash machine at ground level, and a Premises Licence to sell alcohol until 2300, 7 days a week.
This will mean that St John Street alone will have two Sainsbury’s Locals, the Regency convenience store, a full-blown Waitrose and a small Tesco, within about 500 metres of each other. And there are more in Smithfield and Farringdon Road. One has to ask, therefore, whether the potential disturbance these are likely to cause can be justified.
The latest Sainsbury’s Local proposal, for example, is likely to provide cheap booze to clubbers making their way to nearby nightclubs, and will attract revellers at all hours, some the worse for wear, feeling the need to withdraw cash. And at roof level, the refrigeration plant wil be running 24/7, adding to the background hum of similar plant – and all within a few metres of residential bedrooms.
I have therefore asked that the latest Sainsbury planning applications are referred to the Planning Committee, and I have opposed the grant of the Licence. The first two planning applications (for the shopfront and illuminated sign) are going to Planning Committee B on 16th April at 7.30pm at Islington Town Hall and the Licensing application is being heard at the Town Hall on 23rd April at 6.30pm. Both the planning permissions are being recommended by officers for approval. That leaves the applications for the cash machine and refrigeration plant.
The refrigeration plant at a further Sainsbury’s Local, in Holloway Road, has caused a nearby resident to demonstrate against the store, and a report appeared in the Islington Tribune here.
Clearly ground-floor commercial space, intended to provide activity at street level in the area, should not be allowed to stand empty indefinitely. But how many retail foodstores does the area really need?
Crossrail have clarified (since reading this blog) that works won’t, after all, be starting four months of sewer and water main works on 15th April at the lower end of St John’s Street, as previously advised on this blog. The date had been given to me by Islington and appeared in its weekly schedule of impending road works.
Crossrail tell me that they hope to have the details of the programme in a week or so, and that this will be communicated to local residents.
The work has to be done because a survey of their condition has revealed that they are in too poor a condition to be tunnelled under when Crossrail’s two big tunnelling machines arrive in the area this summer.
There are as yet few details of what exactly is involved, but the works are known to involve single-alternate traffic flow controlled by traffic lights.
This may overlap with the southbound closure of Farringdon Road, where same water main problems were revealed recently. So two southbound routes through the area will be disrupted at the same time. Fortunately the Farringdon Road works are due to finish in June.
Not all the water mains in St John’s Street are affected and mains supply may only be briefly interrupted.
The exhibition will again be at Holy Redeemer Church Hall, Exmouth Market EC1R 4QE, and runs as follows:
Thursday 14th March: 2.00pm to 8.00pm
Friday 15th March 11.00am to 5.00pm
Saturday 16th March 10.00am to 3.00pm
There is also a web site at: www.mount-pleasant.org.uk and a Freefone telephone number 0800 458 6976. An an email address is at email@example.com
This is the second exhibition Royal Mail has held, the first having been in October 2012. (That exhibition’s display boards can be downloaded from the web site.)
This is a “pre-application” exhibition, so the next step will be for Royal Mail to submit planning applications to Camden and Islington Councils, within whose borders the development would take place. These are likely to be decided by the Councils sometime in the middle of the year.
Public opinion is divided over the application, with the issues most strongly voiced being the scale and density of the development and its effect on surrounding streets, and the impact of so massive an increase in the population on surrounding amenities and essential services such as schools.
The current proposals being exhibited are for:
- 680 new homes
- shops, offices and restaurants
- some public open space
I will be visiting the exhibition and anyone with views on the scheme is welcome to let me have their reactions, at my email address firstname.lastname@example.org or to post comments on this site. As I am a member of the Planning Committee I am allowed to give some views on the scheme before it goes to decision, as long as I have to keep an open mind on the merits of the scheme as a whole.
A Clerkenwell firm based just off Amwell Street was last night refused a Licence to sell alcohol to its staff and guests, following objections by neighbours in Naoroji Street, Fernsbury St and Lloyd Square, many of whom came to the hearing in Islington Town Hall.
The firm, Buro 4, has installed a vertical-drinking style bar for staff in its basement but cannot sell alcohol to them without a Licence. It wanted to do this by forming a “club” which would be run and managed by its own staff.
Licensing Committee members listened as residents told them about a noisy Christmas party two years ago when neighbours came out at 2.00am to plead for the noise to stop. There had also been persistent problems –flatly denied by the management -with bright lights from the building shining into nearby homes virtually all night.
I told the Committee of my concerns with the drinking culture of the construction industry, to which the firm supplies project management services, and about the apparent lack of experience the firm had in managing licensed premises. I added that the premises are in the newly-extended all-Clerkenwell “saturation zone” in which applicants for licences have to demonstrate that they are not going to add to the well-known drinking problems in the area, which they had not in my view done.
The firm’s representatives originally applied for drinking hours from 5.00pm to 9.00pm, with 4.00pm to 11pm on Thursdays and Fridays. This was later amended to a 5.30pm start.
Buro 4 denied working in the construction industry (despite the plain words of its application) but instead in the “property” industry, and added that all its staff, potential clients and their guests would be “professionals”, whose good behaviour would be assured, even after up to 5 hours vertical drinking, by the Club having “Rules”.
Anyone becoming unruly would be ejected into Fernsbury Street by, er, the duty Committee member of the Club, none of whose members, they admitted, had any experience of the management of licensed premises.
The Committee retired to consider its decision and after a short break announced that it had been refused. Its reasons will be published in a few days’ time.
This is a vivid example of the power the Licensing system, following recent Coalition reforms, now gives residents to object to the pressure for ever-growing numbers of places to drink in Clerkenwell.
Buro 4 now has the right to appeal to Magistrates against the decision, or it can serve Temporary Event Notices to allow it to sell alcohol on a limited number of days a year.
Islington Council has published the reasons for its Licensing Committee’s decision to refuse a Licence to Brewdog for a Danish-style bar serving high-strength beers, in Farringdon Road.
The Committee gives three reasons for the decision. First, the premises are in a “saturation” area, so the onus is on the applicant to show that it would not add to the existing problems of the area. But it had failed to do this.
“It is clear that the primary emphasis of the new business is to serve alcohol, not food and accordingly the new activities would differ significantly from those authorised by the existing licence held by the premises.”
The second reason was its location. “It is located on a particularly busy road, opening directly onto the street. It would accordingly be extremely difficult for the managers and staff of the business to monitor and manage the people leaving their premises and/or smoking on the pavement. This could result in an unnecessary obstruction to an already busy area and pose a health hazard to members of the public in that area. The Sub-Committee was not satisfied or convinced of the applicant’s proposals in relation to the monitoring of smoking and the members of the public being adequately catered for on the street outside the premises after they had purchased alcohol.”
Thirdly, the hours being sought were inappropriate for bar premises serving only snacks. ” The pre-existing licence was for a restaurant where patrons were seated at tables, being served food prepared in a kitchen whereas the licence being sought in this application is primarily for the sale of alcohol for consumption both on and off the premises and the provision of food is very much a secondary consideration.”
“The Sub-Committee weighing up all the evidence referred to above, concluded that the applicant did not rebut the presumption that the operation of the premises would not add to the cumulative impact and impact adversely on the licensing objectives. The application was accordingly refused.”
Brewdog now has 21 days to appeal to the Magistrates.
Islington Licensing Committee today refused Brewdog a Licence to create a Danish-themed bar in a former Italian restaurant in Farringdon Road, Clerkenwell.
The proposed Bar, for 120 patrons, would have served high-strength beer in small glasses, brewed by Danish craft brewer Mikkeller, served with cold Danish and “local” food, until 0030hrs, seven days a week.
I explained to the Committee why I felt it should refuse the application. It was a case of “good idea – wrong premises”. I added that I had had a productive meeting and walkabout with Neil Taylor of Brewdog, who had satisfied me that the concept was not as I first feared, another vertical drinking establishment.
But I felt the choice of premises was unsuitable, first, because it was wrong to convert what had been a restaurant into another bar, in an area where “saturation” policies were in force and had recently been extended; secondly, there was a serious risk to the public because smokers would spill out onto the narrow pavement thus causing passers-by to have to step into the carriageway of a busy “red route”; and thirdly, I had concerns about the pavement nearby which has two electrical control boxes giving easy access to the top of a parapet wall from which, on the other side, there was a 6m drop directly onto electrified railway tracks.
Brewdog argued that they were only amending the licence of the former restaurant, that the change didn’t need planning permission, and that their unique craft-beer-pub-as relaxed wine-bar concept would avoid the issues I forsaw. Drinking would not be permitted outside and smokers would be limited to 10. Dispersal would be over an extended period rather than all at once.
The Committee retired to make its decision. The reasons for the refusal will be released later.
I think it is likely that Brewdog will now appeal to the Magistrates.
I don’t take any pleasure in this decision; in fact, I would now be glad if the Brewdog/Mikkeller concept were to try again in Clerkenwell, and replace some of the other “problem” licensed premises here, of which there are still many. The snag is that this may not currently be financially viable. Stuffing indifferent beer down the throats of undiscriminating drinkers, in significant quantities, is still far too profitable.
Nevertheless, one day it might come about, perhaps when the concept has been proved to be financially as attractive as the vertical drinking establishments, possibly assisted by new developments in Licensing such as the Late Night Levy.
Islington Council last night adopted sweeping new controls over premises selling alcohol throughout the borough, and widened Clerkenwell’s “saturation zone” to the entire ward. Previously, only a 400m-wide zone around Farringdon Station had been designated.
This means that it will be more difficult for new licensed premises to be created, or hours extended, anywhere in Clerkenwell. The adjacent Bunhill ward also became a “saturation zone”, along with parts of Upper Street, Finsbury Park and Kings Cross.
Throughout the borough, new closing times will be imposed on new licences:
- off-licences: 11.00pm all week
- night clubs 1.00am Sunday-Thursday, 2.00am Friday & Saturday nights
- pubs, restaurants and cafes: 11.00pm Sunday-Thursday, midnight Friday & Saturday nights
- takeaway hot food: midnight Sunday-Thursday, 1.00am Friday & Saturday nights
These moves come after extensive consultation with the public and local businesses. 53% of respondents supported the extended saturation zone in Clerkenwell, with 30.2% against.
Ironically, Islington’s Labour administration has taken steps to implement the Coalition Government’s prompt action to reform parts of Labour’s disastrous 2003 Licensing Act, which imposed a “let it rip” approach to new and extended licences, requiring local authorities to ignore objections from many local residents, and imposing tight rules on declaring zones “saturated.” A Labour councillor described the 2003 Act as “a brave mistake.”
The Price of Islington’s Alcohol habit
The papers supporting the new Policy put the case very starkly. Islington now has:
- 1,300 licensed premises, nearly 1/3 of which are open after midnight
- the 2nd highest rate of alcohol-related crime in London, per head of population
- the highest rate of hospital admissions in London for alcohol-related conditions
- the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths among men in London, and the 4th highest for women
- 2,465 ambulance call-outs a year to alcohol-related incidents
Clerkenwell alone has 130 licensed premises, comprising 10% of Islington’s on-licensed premises.
Recent independent research commissioned by the Council in Clerkenwell indicated that:
“the impact of licensed premises is a major factor affecting the daily lives of the residents we spoke to.”
Further Action Ahead
Further measures in the Coalition’s legislation offer the prospect of even greater control, and Islington will consult on introducing them when the regulations are published:
Early Morning Restriction Orders are blanket bans on alcohol sales at particular times in designated streets.
The Late Night Levy is a levy based on rateable value on all premises selling alcohol in an area after a chosen time (eg 2.00am) to help pay for policing and some other costs.
The same Council meeting heard that Islington’s Police are facing a cut of more than 60 officers.
A controversial Scottish brewery is applying for a Licence to convert what was previously a restaurant into a bar, at 54 Farringdon Road. This adjoins the existing Betsey Trotwood pub.
The brewery is controversial because of its aggressive marketing of very strong beers, some of which have been banned by the Portman Group, a brewing-industry group which promotes responsible drinking.
The application is also within the Clerkenwell “saturation zone” declared in 2011.
As such, the applicants have to show that the granting of the Licence will not add to the familiar issues of drunkenness and antisocial behaviour already encountered in the area. Consultation recently concluded on including the entire ward of Clerkenwell within such a zone.
The applicants seem unable to me to discharge this burden of proof. I have several problems with it, and have made an objection.
First, it will for most purposes become a ” drinking establishment”, and a “vertical” one at that. The applicants’ emphasis (judging by their web site) is exclusively on the consumption of beer.
There appears to be no detail in the Licence application about the type of food on offer, despite the application for a late-night refreshment licence.
We don’t need any more of them in the area – that’s why it’s a saturation zone.
Location of Premises
Secondly, the premises adjoin one of the busiest roads in the area, which sees a great deal of traffic, all night. As the traffic volume diminishes, speeds increase.
Smokers and others standing outside the premises are therefore at serious risk, particularly once intoxicated, of stepping, falling or being pushed into the carriageway and being injured. This was a recurrent problem with the former “Ghost” nightclub on the west side of Farringdon Road at this point.
Any pedestrians attempting to pass along the road on the pavement are highly likely to have to step into the road to pass by smokers and others standing outside the premises. I regard this as unacceptable.
The other hazard is that the premises adjoin a railway cutting some 12 metres below ground level, equipped with high voltage overhead cables. Some drinkers may climb onto the walls of the cutting and fall into the cutting, with fatal consequences.
Probability of Anti-Social Behaviour
The premises are unsuitable because of their relationship with nearby residential premises, consisting in particular of :
The Peabody Estate, Pear Tree Court, Warner Street, Herbal Hill Gardens and Clerkenwell Green.
I estimate that residents of some 500 flats will be affected.
Then there is the problem of arrival and dispersal routes. Although the premises are on Farringdon Road and near Clerkenwell Road, the routes by which people arrive and disperse are not confined to these roads. Peabody residents have consistently reported the use of their estate as a through-route (and as a toilet) by intoxicated people coming and going to licensed premises in the area and it is highly likely that these problems would increase should No 54 reopen as a vertical drinking establishment.
The applicants are notorious for the unusually strong brands of beer they sell. In view of the issues raised above, it seems to be particularly important that, should the application be granted, a restrictions should be placed on the strength of beer they sell. Patrons are likely to arrive from other venues with an impaired judgement about the strength of beer on offer, and thus to be incapable of understanding whether it is appropriate for them to consume it.
Hours of Operation
The applicants wish to sell alcohol until 0030, and food until 0100, every day of the week. This is a very late time for the sale of particularly strong beer, and seems likely to aggravate the problem of drunken departure.
The hours also seem to me to imply that final dispersal will take place up until 0200. This is highly unacceptable and may deny nearby residents the chance of proper sleep.
There will now be a hearing at a Licensing Committee meeting, probably next month.