Pub license renewal provokes complaints

Residents had made a complaint about noise levels. Pic: Ewan Munro

Residents had made a complaint about noise levels The Birdcage pub just off Colombia Road. Pic: Ewan Munro

A pub landlord has won a new late license for his Tower Hamlets pub after a tense dispute with local residents fearing “Hoxton creep”.

Charlie McVeigh, landlord of the Birdcage on Columbia Road, already had an existing 3am weekend and 2am weekday license, but residents raised concerns when the pub sought permission to double capacity by adding a first floor.

Over 60 letters of objection were sent to the council, after The Birdcage submitted their licence renewal application. Councillor John Pierce, chair of the overview and scrutiny committee, said that he had never received so many complaints. The Environmental Health Services withdrew their objection to the license renewal after McVeigh agreed to comply with new noise regulations.

Christopher Shepherd, a resident, said residents feared a ‘Hoxton Creep’ where late-night activity in Shoreditch High Street would spread to Columbia Road. He said residents worried about longer periods of anti-social behaviour and loud music. However, he also said that management of the pub had much improved.  “Charlie and his team have done a fantastic job. I think the way they’ve turned it around is stunning,” he added.

McVeigh argued that he had contributed positively to the community having invested £500,000 into restoration of the pub. He said his plan to invest a further £300,000 showed his commitment to the area. “I am disappointed that the application has caused so much ill-feeling,” he said. “We have never had any complaints [about The Birdcage] from either the police or the environmental health services.”

Pierce, who also objected to the plans regarding the Birdcage, argued there weren’t enough assurances that the pub could handle larger crowds and increased noise pollution. “The main objective is to mitigate the concerns of residents,” he said.

The council granted the license with a reduced 1am curfew instead of 3am. Councillors Amy Whitelock Gibbs, cabinet member for health and adult services, Rachael Saunders, Deputy Mayor and Muhammad Ansar Mustaquim, cabinet member for education and children’s services, agreed that since the issues raised by residents were historic, rather than current, they saw no reason to deny the application.

Pierce said: “I’m happy with where it’s gone to. I think there was a real risk around a 2am to 3am on weekends license. I think the 1am license is a much better outcome for local people.”

McVeigh told Eastlondonlines: “Obviously we’re delighted that we’ve won but it also looks like we haven’t caused any ill-feeling with the other side, as they’re our customers and friends. Hopefully that’s the case and we can all sail away happily into the sunset.”


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