Thursday 16 December 2021
Membership: Councillor Murad Gassanly (Chairman)
Councillor Louise Hyams
Councillor Rita Begum
Officer Support: Legal Advisor: Viviene Walker
Policy Officer: Aaron Hardy
Committee Officer: Kisi Smith-Charlemagne
Presenting Officer: Roxsana Haq
Application for a New Premises Licence in respect of Sheesh 70 Brompton Road London SW3 1ER 21/07425/LIPN
70 Brompton Road London SW3 1ER
Sheesh London Limited
Cumulative Impact Area
Knightsbridge and Belgravia
Summary of Application
This is an application for a New Premises Licence under the Licensing Act 2003 (“The Act”). The Premises propose to operate as a restaurant with private dining rooms in the basement, restaurant/holding bar on the ground floor and members/diners lounge and restaurant on the first floor. The Premises are located within the Knightsbridge and Belgravia Ward but are not with the Cumulative Impact Zone nor Special Consideration Zone. There is a resident count of 143.
Proposed Activities and Hours
Late Night Refreshment (Indoors)
Monday to Saturday 23:00 to 00:00 hours Sunday 23:00 to 23:30 hours
New Year’s Eve 23:00 to 01:00 New Year’s Day.
Sale by Retail of Alcohol (Indoors and Outdoors)
Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 00:00 hours Sunday 10:00 to 23:30 hours
Seasonal Variations: Sunday before Bank Holiday Monday 10:00 to 00:00 hours.
New Year’s Eve – from end of permitted hours on New Year’s Eve until 01:00 hours on New Year’s Day.
Opening Hours of the Premises
Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 00:30 hours Sunday 10:00 to 00:00 hours
Seasonal Variations: Sunday before Bank Holiday Monday 10:00 to 00:30
New Year’s Eve to 01:30 hours.
· Environmental Health Service (EHS) (Ian Watson)
· 53 Local Residents
· The Knightsbridge Association
· The Knightsbridge Neighbourhood Forum, Knightsbridge Residents Management Company
· Metropolitan Police Service (PC Nicole Sondh) (Withdrawn 01/10/2021)
Summary of issues raised by objectors:
The proposals are likely to increase the risk of Public Nuisance and may impact upon Public Safety within the area. Residents stated Mount Street is a predominantly residential street with some restaurants and there is long standing precedent as to limitations on the use of properties in Mount Street for entertainment. The premises have not been used as a restaurant before and granting the application would strongly increase the risks of public nuisance, crime, and public safety. The proposed hours are outside of core hours and introducing late hours into a residential area would affect children and elderly residents who have to sleep early.
Under Policy RNT1(A), applications outside the West End Cumulative Impact Zone will generally be granted subject to the matters identified in Policy RNT1.
Under Policy HRS1, applications outside the core hours set out in Clause C will be considered on their merits, subject to other relevant policies in the Statement of Licensing Policy.
SUBMISSIONS AND REASONS
The Presenting Officer Ms Roxsana Haq introduced the application, she advised the Licensing Sub-Committee that they had before them a new premises licence application who intended to operate as restaurant with private dining rooms in the basement, restaurant/holding bar on the ground floor and members/diners lounge and restaurant on the first floor. Ms Haq informed the Sub-Committee that the Premises are located within the Knightsbridge and Belgravia Ward but are not with the Cumulative Impact Zone nor Special Consideration Zone.
Ms Lisa Sharkey – Agent, for the Applicant addressed the Sub-Committee, she advised that her client had undertaken pre application consultation with Environmental Health officers in June, however due to lockdown restrictions they took a view to not invite residents to the premises. She advised the Sub-Committee that her client had liaised with EHS officers and considered other local premises in order to review their hours of operation, conditions, and complaints. Ms Sharky informed the Sub-Committee that the location for the premises was selected by Mr Hunt, because it was a busy location and a primary retail shopping area.
Ms Sharkey advised the Sub-Committee that the application was for a restaurant and the style of operation was striking the right balance between shoppers, tourists, and residents. She felt that the style of operation, the hours, conditions proposed, and the dispersal policy showed the right balance. Ms Sharkey stated that the hours were outside WCC core licensing hours, and that there was not a presumption to refuse, but instead the application would be considered on its merits. She advised that her client had mirrored the operating hours of the closest restaurant ‘Zuma’.
Ms Sharkey advised the Sub-Committee that the premises have a dedicated service yard in the rear of the premises for deliveries. In the lowered basement will be a central storage space for waste and a glass crusher. With regard to the restaurant, she informed the Sub-Committee that the basement would be made up of three dining areas and condition 10 stated that alcohol would be ancillary to food and that her client was happy to accept a condition for these rooms to be used for private dining only.
Ms Sharkey confirmed that the main dining area was located on the ground floor, she stated that there would be a concierge available throughout the day. She also explained that the reception area was large to avoid queues outside the premises. Referring to the premises plan, Ms Sharkey highlighted the kitchen and dispense bar area. She informed the Sub-Committee that on the first floor of the premises were two seated lounge bars and restaurant area with an estimated 100 covers. She stated that with regards to membership, members would be able to order and book a table for dinner and come in to lounge for drinks, pre or post dinner.
Ms Sharkey confirmed that there were three dining rooms in the basement which would hold 45 people, the ground floor would hold 120-150 seated. She advised that the first-floor dining area would accommodate 100 people and the lounge bars, and the library would hold 50 people. Ms Sharkey explained that EHS had suggested an amount of 450 people, but the Applicant would be happy to reduce this to 350 people.
Mr Raja Balasuriya (Witness for the Applicant) addressed the Sub-Committee, he confirmed that he had no financial involvement with Mr Hunt’s businesses but was a customer who frequented a number of the members’ clubs. He informed the Sub-Committee that he was able to visit these establishments with his family and received a very high-quality dining experience. Mr Balasuriya confirmed that he had been a club member for 10 years and the establishments were well run with no trouble associated with any of the premises. He also explained to the Committee that Mr Hunt was a popular figure in the local community.
Mr Ian Watson, on behalf of Environmental Health Services advised that he was contacted by Ms Sharkey for pre application advice. He confirmed that the location had a substantial number of residential properties. He stated that the original hours sought had been reduced based on his advice and in keeping with similar premises in the area, such a Zuma. Mr Watson confirmed that the residents were concerned with the capacity and the use of the external areas. He confirmed that there would be no tables and chairs outside the premises.
Mr Watson confirmed that there would be no entrance lobby and doors would remain closed, he stated that the Applicant had not applied for regulated entertainment. Mr Watson informed the Sub-Committee that there was an office situated above the first floor of the restaurant and there was a sensitive party wall adjacent to the library. He stated that the noise report not submitted as part of the application. Mr Watson raised the queries regarding light escaping from the premises into the properties of residents directly opposite the premises. He confirmed that the dedicated yard at the rear of the premises is shared with Zuma.
Mr Richard Brown addressed the Sub-Committee, he confirmed that he was representing the Knightsbridge Association and Mr Paul Meitner who was in attendance. Mr Brown referred the Sub-Committee to the residential map on page 192 of the Licensing Sub-Committee Report which he advised showed the residential nature of the vicinity, particularly to the north and west of the site. He informed the Sub-Committee that the premises were described as a restaurant with private dining rooms in basement, restaurant/holding bar on ground floor and members/diners lounge and restaurant on first floor. Mr Brown stated that despite the references to ‘restaurant’, the conditions proposed with the application do not sufficiently link it to that use. He stated that Policy PB1 applied to the application.
Mr Brown informed the Sub-Committee that there had been no fewer than 56 objections to the application. He stated that his clients and other persons believed the application site was simply in the wrong location for a licensed premises, and particularly for a licensed premises of this scale and nature. Mr Brown informed the Sub-Committee that although the address of the premises was Brompton Road, the premises were in fact on the corner of Brompton Road and Lancelot Place. He advised that to the immediate west of the premises was Trevor Square and Trevor Street, each of these have high levels of residential accommodation, with more being built.
Mr Brown explained that the main entrance to the premises was on the corner of Brompton Road and Lancelot Place and so the arrivals and dispersals would be in close proximity to many residents. He noted that dispersal in particular would have a serious impact which would be felt on the adjacent streets and beyond. Mr Brown referred to the photographs submitted by objectors to illustrate this point. He advised that Brompton Road was a Red Route, and it was simply not possible for vehicles to stop, drop off customers and manoeuvre vehicles. Mr Brown added that the objectors simply cannot see how any licensed premises in this location can operate so as to promote the licensing objectives.
Mr Brown advised the Sub-Committee that when determining licence application, the focus should be on evaluating what is ‘reasonably acceptable’ in a particular location. He added that the scope of the licence and conditions should be looked at in a local context. He informed the Sub-Committee that the Statement of Licensing Policy was clear that on the merits of a particular case, refusal of an application was the appropriate outcome. He stated that the Knightsbridge Association felt that this was the appropriate outcome in this instance.
Mr Paul Meitner addressed the Sub-Committee, he advised that he objected to the application as it conflicts with the objectives of the Licensing Act 2003, including the prevention of public nuisance, including crime and anti-social behaviour, prevention of harm to children and public safety. He also confirmed that it was a residential area, and a mansion block was located at the rear of the premises. Mr Meitner stated the red route on Brompton Road and nearby road were already congested.
He added that in addition the application did not comply with the requirements of WCC's Restaurant Model Condition, and the site was unsuitable. Mr Meitner requested that the Committee consider the cumulative impact of the application.
Ms Caroline Stoclin addressed the Sub-Committee, she confirmed that she was a resident who lived in Lancelot Place and has three children. She confirmed that she was also speaking on behalf of her mother in-law. She stated that she objected to the application and felt that the council should not allow such a big restaurant to open with a licence to serve alcohol so late as this would cause more noise and crime in the area.
Ms Stoclin informed the Sub-Committee that the Sheesh restaurant would be at the junction of Lancelot Place and Brompton Road where there is already a lot of traffic. She stated that she was extremely worried about the loss of amenities for residents with people smoking outside on the street.
Ms Ann Wright addressed the Sub-Committee, she confirmed that she had been a resident of Trevor Square for over 24 years. She stated that her objection was based on the increased likelihood of public nuisance affecting the many residential houses and flats in the immediate neighbourhood of 70 Brompton Road.
Ms Wright informed the Sub-Committee that she was particularly concerned about the noise levels created by late night diners and night club members leaving the premises in what was an unusually quiet neighbourhood. Ms Wright advised that she would be concerned about the possibility of an increase in low level crime disorder when club members leave the premises. She noted that parking would also be another concern as there is limited car parking in the area.
Mr Charles Nasser addressed the Sub-Committee, he confirmed that he was speaking on behalf of his mother Therese Cattan-Nasser. Mr Nasser explained that he had objected to the application due to the increased noise, litter, and traffic. He stated that granting such application would enable the sale of take away alcohol would impact negatively on residents.
The Committee clarified with Mr Brown and Mr Meitner that their concerns were primarily focused on the location and capacity of the premises. Mr Brown confirmed that it was indeed the location, the capacity and the nuisance were the main areas of concern.
The Sub-Committee also asked Ms Wright if there were any areas of the application that she would consider negotiating to negate any areas of concerns, for example, hours or activities offered. Ms Wright confirmed that she objected to the entire application.
Mr Melville Haggard, local resident, informed the Sub-Committee that any vehicles making deliveries and who position their vehicles into the entrance of Lancelot Place, can only go into Trevor Square or Knightsbridge Green, both are highly congested. Vehicles are unable to reverse onto the Red Route in order to continue along Brompton Road.
Mr Will Hollest addressed the Sub-Committee, he confirmed that he was representing a resident. He informed the Sub-Committee that the residents home entrance was only a few meters away from the premises. Mr Hollest informed the Sub-Committee that the premises had solely been used for retail use with very little negative impact on the residents, however the proposed use of a restaurant with private members club would see a huge increase in the amount of footfall and activities. Mr Hollest informed the Sub-Committee those local residents could be faced with circa 250-280 customers leaving the premises around midnight every day of the week. He stated that the volume of people and those hours would surely create significant noise disruption for residents.
Mr Hollest explained that the operation hours were outside of Westminster’s core hours and were more like the hours of a club as appose to a restaurant and would harm residents. He noted that Appendix 11 of the policy stated that a noise report to be submitted with application where there is need for plant and door staff, which will help the council to decide if noise and acoustic reports are needed. Mr Hollest advised the Sub-Committee that his client had raised concerns regarding noise in the original objection letter and the lack of a formal noise statement. He felt that without the information it was not possible to access what needs to be in place to mitigate against the potential increase in noise.
Mr Hollest informed the Sub-Committee that the operational and dispersal plan did not provide sufficient controls over parking management and arrangements should include dedicated drop off and collections places agreed with the Council away from Lancelot Place.
Mr Robert Hayes addressed the Sub-Committee and added that he was concerned about losing the enjoyment of the outside space and that consideration should be given to the current developments meaning more residents would be living in the vicinity. He confirmed that he objected to the application.
Mr Simon Birkett on behalf of Knightsbridge Neighbourhood Forum advised the Sub-Committee that the application conflicted with the licensing objectives.
He explained that it was a large operation with 350 covers for serval sitting per day and entrance and egress would be challenging. He stated that Knightsbridge and Hyde Park Corner underground stations had often been exit only during the Winter Wonderland events meaning that the transport impacts of the application need to be very carefully assessed. Mr Birkett advised the Sub-Committee that those other modes, such as minicabs, would cause many problems in quiet neighbouring residential streets not least late as night e.g., illegal parking, noise from slamming doors and shouting and/or idling or anti-social behaviour by drivers. Mr Birkett advised that he objected to the application as the location was not suitable.
Mr Robert Botkai confirmed that he represented the Knightsbridge Residents Management Company, they in turn represent over 200 apartments. He informed the Sub-Committee that it was unusual for them to seek a straight refusal but were doing so on this occasion. He advised the Sub-Committee that Sheesh was not a restaurant, he felt that it was a bar serving expensive food, with music and this type of operation would not work in the proposed location.
Mr Botkai explained that the Sub-Committee role is to strike a balance between resident and commercial interests, and this often means seeking a compromise through conditions. Mr Botkai noted that given the level of objections the Applicant has not amended the application to core hours with restaurant conditions. He noted the 350 covers and number of sittings proposed and queried the number of staff needed to support such a large operation. Mr Botkai explained that the coming and going and what would happen outside the premises was his clients main concern. He commented on the level of disturbances form cars and taxi’s the residents were already subjected to and advised that the flagging down of taxi’s would not work in this location.
Ms Viviene Walker - Legal Advisor, sought clarification from the Applicant with regards to the conditions withdrawn by Mr Hollest. Ms Sharkey confirmed that her client agreed condition 11, however suggested that the paragraph be reinserted as it was agreed in the pre application by Mr Watson. It was also noted that condition 12 should be amended so that it stated, ‘Notwithstanding this condition, customers are permitted to purchase and take from the premises alcohol for consumption ‘off’ the premises in accordance with conditions 14.’
Ms Sharkey confirmed that her client agreed condition 21, however did not want to agree condition 23 as proposed but wanted to suggest the condition as consulted by Mr Watson. She advised the Sub-Committee that the premises were not seeking to include regulated entertainment, only background music would be played. Ms Sharkey confirmed that her client would be happy to agree a condition for a noise limiter, if deem necessary by Environmental Health officers. Ms Sharkey advised the Sub-Committee that until Mr Watson visited the premises, it would be difficult to determine if a noise limiter would be necessary. She confirmed that she did not submit a noise report because her client was not proposing any form of regulated entertainment.
Mr Sharkey informed the Sub-Committee that with regard to condition 24 there were no windows that opened. Ms Sharkey agreed condition 31 and confirmed that her client was happy to amend condition 32 from between 19:00 to 08:00. Ms Sharkey confirmed conditions 38, 39, and 40 were agreed, Ms Sharkey did not agree condition 41 as proposed, she advised that her client was not applying for regulated entertainment and felt that conditions needed to be appropriate to the application. Ms Sharkey advised the Sub-Committee that her client would be willing to accept a model condition (MC13) requesting that no speakers be placed by the front door or outside the premises.
Ms Sharkey did not agree condition 42 and felt that Mr Watson suggestion condition 23 adequately covered and the additional condition was required. She felt that conditions 43, 44, 45 and 46 were covered by her clients operational and dispersal plan (condition16) and were not agreed. Ms Sharkey noted that regarding condition 47 deliveries, collections, and operational servicing, this was not agreed because of customers who may want to collect food orders. She stated that there would be no Deliveroo, Uber Eats or similar companies as part of the operation (condition 15). Ms Sharkey confirmed that condition 48 was agreed, however, condition 49 was not agreed and accepted Mr Watson’s condition 36 with a capacity of 35o people, with added wording ‘and should exclude staff’.
Ms Sharkey confirmed that condition 50 was not agreed as this was covered by condition 34. Ms Sharkey stated that conditions 51 and 52 were not agreed as her client would be operating a restaurant and it was not appropriate for every guest dining to have their pockets or bags searched.
The Sub-Committee sought clarification on the planning status, referring to the earlier comments regarding classification C, and if a planning application had or would be submitted regarding the change of use element. Mr Gary Stanesby, Architect, addressed the Sub-Committee, he advised the Sub-Committee that a planning application would be submitted along with details of minor changes to the front façade of the premises, and the extraction system. He confirmed that there would be no change of use, the premises would operate as a restaurant under class C. The Committee queried whether a noise report would be produced for planning, Mr Stanesby confirmed that a noise report would be required for the extraction system.
The Sub-Committee queried conditions 10 and 11, referring to the comments and concerns from the residents and interested parties regarding the hours and nature of the operation, type of activities proposed, and the mitigating conditions proposed by the residents. The Sub-Committee also noted concern regarding the supply of alcohol in the basement and private dining rooms being ancillary to a substantial meal, however, this was not the Council’s model restaurant condition. Ms Sharkey confirmed that the basement and private dining rooms would be ancillary to food and would be happy to accept the model restaurant condition.
The Sub-Committee queried the first-floor lounge bar areas, seeking clarity on whether members and guests could consume alcohol without food. Ms Sharkey informed the Sub-Committee that it was something that her client applied for, as the area was intended for pre dining area, but was happy to accept a condition limiting the area to only to guest that would be dining. Ms Sharkey stated that it would not be possible for any vehicles to stop outside the premises from 7am to 7pm and that there was a taxi rank opposite the premises and on Raphael Street. Ms Sharkey advised the Sub-Committee that there would be information regarding travel and parking for guest on the premises website. She stated that the premises website would discourage guest from parking on residential streets and the concierge would be onsite to give advice and manage guest arriving.
The Sub-Committee queried why given all the objections, the Applicant had not tried to consult with local resident associations and forums or consultation. Ms Sharkey advised the Sub-Committee that the Application was made last year during lock down. She stated that she did contact the residents above Caffe Concerto once that application was submitted. She also advised that there was a residents’ meeting in October.
Mr Watson advised the Sub-Committee that regarding condition 23, it was his recommendation that the Applicant should accept the model condition. He stated that other conditions had been proposed and accepted but it was for the Sub-Committee to decide. Mr Brown advised that there had been 56 objections which all agreed that the application was the wrong location and wrong nature for this large operation and concluded that the application should be refused.
Ms Sharky advised the Sub-Committee that the location for the premises was selected by Mr Hunt, because it was a busy location, a primary retail shopping area, frequented by tourist and residents. She added that her client did consider the operations and hours for the other restaurants in the vicinity and what the Applicant was seeking from the submitted application. Ms Sharkey urged the Sub-Committee to consider the facts and referred to the Hope and Glory case and paragraph 42 which states, ‘Licensing decisions are often weighing a variety of competing considerations, the demand for licensed establishments, the economic benefit to the proprietor and locality by drawing visitors and stimulating demand effects on law and order and the impact on the lives of those who live and work in the vicinity etc, sometimes the licensing decision may involve narrow questions such as noise, smells or litter coming from the premises amount to public nuisance. Ms Sharkey added that these were facts and expected in a location such as this. She stated that the premises were not in the CIA or Special Consideration Zone. Ms Sharkey confirmed that the application was for a restaurant and not for a bar or club, she also confirmed that the taxi rank outside Harrods operated 24/7.
Mr Hunt addressed the Sub-Committee, he confirmed that his premises in Chigwell was exclusive and was operated to a high standard. He stated that the premises did not have any problems and there was always a great atmosphere. Mr Hunt informed the Sub-Committee that he would take great care of the area outside the premises as if it were his own, with door and concierge staff ensuring that things ran smoothly. He explained that he would ensure that traffic was not congested and that no vehicles stopped or idled outside the premises.
The Sub- Committee has a duty to consider the application on its individual merits and took into account all the committee papers, supplementary submissions made by the Applicant and third parties, and the oral evidence given by all parties during the hearing in its determination of the matter.
The Sub-Committee felt that it needed to strike the right balance when considering the merits of the application and the evidence before it and did not arrive at the decision to refuse the application lightly having regard to the full set of circumstances of the case. It did properly consider whether the proposed conditions offered would mitigate the concerns of residents but was not persuaded by the Applicant that these would go to the heart of problems associated with nuisance.
The Sub- Committee when looking at the evidence had regard to the policy considerations arising under PN1, HRS1 and RNT1 of the City Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy.
The Committee decided that the Applicant had not provided sufficient reasons as to why the granting of the application would promote the licensing objectives and therefore refused the application in all the circumstances of the case.
This is the Full Decision reached by the Licensing Sub-Committee.
This Decision takes immediate effect.
The Licensing Sub-Committee
16 December 2021