New nightclubs and restaurants could have to close early under licensing rules being introduced by Hackney Council.
Last night (8 February) Hackney’s Licensing Committee agreed on a draft Licensing Policy, which will go before the council for approval on 21 February.
The policy includes a “core hours” clause which says a new business might have to close at 11pm on weekdays, midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and 10.30pm on Sundays.
However, the council has said this is “not a blanket policy”, just the normal opening hours for a licensed business, and applicants can make the case for staying open later.
The policy does not apply to businesses which already have a license.
The draft policy would also double the size of the Shoreditch Special Policy Area, where a business has to show there will be no “cumulative impact” on the local area to be granted a license.
A public consultation on the draft Licensing Policy, running from November to January, found an average 73 per cent negative response to the changes.
However, council officers say most respondents were white men aged 25 to 44, and therefore “not reflective of the borough as a whole”.
There was also a spike in responses from 73 to 607 in January after a campaign against the changes by the group We Love Hackney, according to the council.
Cllr Emma Plouviez, Chair of the Licensing Committee, said: “As the licensing committee, our job is to carefully balance the needs of local businesses and the people who live in our borough.
“We value the borough’s nightlife – it’s one of the things that makes Hackney unique – but we also value our residents’ right to a good night’s sleep.
“I believe this policy strikes that balance. It’s about doing all we can to promote a wide, varied and manageable night life that doesn’t come at the expense of the rights of people who live here.”
She added: “The policy we have recommended to full council will not affect existing businesses and we will continue to consider each new application on its own merit. It is not a blanket policy.
“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, by opening later, their business will not have a negative impact on the area if they want to open late. We will help and support them to do that.”
The draft policy also includes simplifying the Special Policy Area in Dalston, some general principles, and restricting the hours shops can sell alcohol to be consumed off the premises to between 8am and 11pm.
You can read the draft Licensing Policy here.