The borough's proposed licensing changes take a tough stance on clubs.
The borough has emerged as a key battleground in the future of London's nightlife. Hackney's licensing team and councillors have drafted a new licensing policy, which is in consultation until August 14th, to replace the existing policy, which expires at the end of 2015. Under the council's proposed plan, a "borough-wide hours" policy puts all license applications beyond midnight under extra scrutiny, although restaurants and cinemas are deemed acceptable to close later—at 1 AM on weekend nights. The Special Policy Areas (SPAs) in Dalston and Shoreditch will continue, making it almost impossible to get late licenses in those areas. The SPA in Dalston was implemented in 2013 despite 84 percent of respondents to a public consultation opposing it.
Dan Beaumont, owner of Dalston Superstore and Dance Tunnel, told RA: "It is a shame that a vibrant and creative London borough has to suffer a regressive and damaging licensing policy. Clubs are a vital part of Hackney's success story over the last few decades—if this policy goes ahead we will all be poorer for it. It is vital to encourage new start-ups to launch independent venues to keep Hackney—and London—an important cultural destination."
NTIA chairman Alan Miller added: "The impact if these licensing changes were enacted as currently presented would be to prevent any further innovation and contributions from the young, new and established entrepreneurs that bring dynamism, employment and culture to Hackney. The policy would act as a curfew and and effective ban meaning Hackney aims to extinguish the vitality and improvement of the borough."
Speaking to Hackney Citizen, The Columbo Group's Steve Ball echoed these sentiments. "No new bars being allowed will remove from young entrepreneurs the opportunity to do things better than the old guard. It is important that the next generation has access to the same opportunities.”
Hackney's consultation runs until August 14th. Local residents and businesses can submit their thoughts here. A website called We Love Hackney has also been set up to "help save Hackney’s nightlife"—you can check it out here.
Photo credit: Nick Ensing