London is finally getting the hang of the 24-hour city concept.
But as the Tube gears up to shuttle revellers round-the-clock, Hackney Council has all-but-ascertained that London’s ‘coolest’ borough, whose postcodes can be found on Urban Outfitters t-shirts the world over, won’t be coming along for the ride.
A new set of licensing regulations proposed by the council could prevent new bars from staying open past midnight on weekends, or past 11pm from Sunday to Thursday. “Certain types of activity”, like going out for dinner, will be encouraged.
Like a better-behaved sister with a later bedtime, those willing to sit and eat quietly will be granted more leniency — the vintage Malbec will flow freely at new restaurants until 1am. Nice for some.
It seems like it was just yesterday the council was all about ‘Destination Hackney’, making much of the borough’s reputation as a reveller’s paradise.
But now the council is encouraging the sterilisation that seems inevitable among droves of new-build flats. We will have a nightlife policy to match the one that turned Soho’s club scene into a shopping mall for al fresco diners.
As with all rules, exceptions will be made. But, the proposals say, “a case has to be made” — and that is sure to be a business case.
This ad-hoc approach leaves just enough room for friendly negotiations with, say, a global hotel chain bringing in a lucrative contract. But for a couple of friends looking to open the next Joiners Arms ? Doubtful.
Nightlife entrepreneurs have been quick out of the gate reacting to the proposals, often furiously.
But the quiet hand of legislation won’t be felt for some time, as leases expire and everyone starts realising there’s nowhere left to party.
The proposals claim to “manage growth” and address the “cumulative impact” of nightlife expansion, but perhaps fail to see the cumulative inevitability that a dying bar scene may make way its way underground, this time with no licensing in sight.