Culture and the night time economy – Supplementary Planning Guidance As a group that represents the interests of people who live in London’s Central Activity Zone (CAZ) we are very aware of the fact that there needs, as the Mayor says in the foreword, to be a focus on “…balancing the needs of those who work at night, those who want to party and those who just want a good night’s sleep”.
The residents of the West End fall into all three of these groups. The night-time economy, especially after 00:00, is one of the major contributors to the fact that in the West End it is very difficult to “just” get a good night’s sleep, something which is having a major impact on the quality of life for residents.
The London Plan Policy on Lifetime Neighbourhoods (7.1) states that
Development should enable people to live healthy, active lives; should maximize the opportunity for community diversity, inclusion and cohesion; and should contribute to people’s sense of place, safety and security. Places of work and leisure, streets, neighbourhoods, parks and open spaces should be designed to meet the needs of the community at all stages of people’s lives, and should meet the principles of lifetime neighbourhoods.
In our view the SPG as currently drafted fails adequately to emphasise the balance required between the needs of users, workers and residents. Unless it is modified we believe that it will encourage development to take place which will fail to meet the requirements of this section of the London Plan.
In this document we have set out some broad comments on the Draft SPG. We have chosen not to suggest detailed wording for specific paragraphs as we believe this would mean that the broad thrust of our suggestions would be lost.
Defining the Night-Time Economy
The SPG justifies its existence based on the large size of the Night-Time economy. It quotes a figure of £66 Billion for the UK’s Night Time economy and states that London represents 40% of this.
It does not define what it means by “Night-time”. It appears to take its data from a report entitled “Ernst & Young/London First, The Economic Value of London’s 24 Hour Economy”. This in turn claims that the “Estimate is based on previous studies and official figures.”. The report does not say how it has gone about doing this. One of the listed documents was produced by Westminster City Council. This describes the Evening and Night Time Economy and defines evening at 18:00-00:00, Night at 00:00-06:00.
Submission by WECN
The Westminster document focussed on food, drink and entertainment uses which are only part of the “night time economy”. However it also says that for businesses which operate in this sector 20% of turnover takes place at night, 45% in the evening and the remaining 35% takes place during the day.
We have had a discussion with Philip Kolvin (who is quoted in the SPG) and he has said that in his view the NTE includes all of the activity after 18:00. The SPG itself refers frequently to evening activities.
From a Planning (and Licensing) point of view the issues associated with the evening economy (18:00-00:00) are very different from the night-time one (00:00-06:00). Intensification and diversification of the evening economy has fewer negative consequences for the local area then the same thing happening in the night-time period.
This is recognised in Licensing Policy by the concept of Core/Framework 1Hours. Applications for Licensable Activities within these hours are more likely to be approved than those outside them. There is a rebuttable presumption to refuse application for certain activities outside these hours within the “Cumulative Impact Areas” which cover the most intensively used parts of the West End.
The SPG uses the blanket term “Night Time Economy” without making clear that what it means by “night” and this is, in our view, a significant barrier to its use as a Planning Guidance Document.
The SPG needs to define and make clear the distinction between Evening and Night-time and explicitly state that the Boroughs can and should differentiate between the evening and night-time period in how they incorporate the SPG into their Planning Policies and Decisions.
Mapping the Night-Time Economy
We note that Map 1 (Strategic Clusters of Night Time Activity) is different from Map 4.3 included in Policy 4.3 of the London Plan (which is described as “Night time economy clusters of strategic importance). The reason for the difference between the 2 maps is unclear and is likely to give rise to confusion.
The map within the SPG should match the equivalent map within the London Plan.
1Framework Hours in Camden, Core Hours in Westminster
Submission by WECN
Putting this SPG in context
The SPG makes clear that it is part of a range of initiatives from the Mayor. These include:
A Cultural infrastructure Plan
A New London Plan which will be the most pro-cultural London Plan yet.
The appointment of Amy Lamé as Night Czar
Establishment of the Night Time Commission
The SPG is a Planning Document. The night-time economy includes many activities which are governed by the Licensing Act 2003 (LA2003). The link between the SPG and the need for Licensing to work together is made clear in Paragraphs 7.1-7.4. Our view is that this link needs to be made more explicit and emphasised within the SPG by, for example, including clear references to this point in the Executive Summary. At the moment the only reference to Licensing is one suggesting that more development of this type can help develop Lifetime Neighbourhoods. As is clear above our view is that intensifying the night-time economy can have exactly the opposite effect.
In areas which already contain significant levels of ENTE activity we do not see how any additional developments of this type can be done without adding to the harm already being caused. If there are ways of achieving this then they need to be put in place before any additional activity is proposed.
The Executive Summary of the SPG needs to make clear that as well as Planning considerations there is a need to take into account the possible impact of night-time activities (particularly after 00:00) on the existing residential population and ensure that there are clear strategies in place to mitigate any existing issues before any new ones are proposed.
Agent of Change
The SPG discusses the use of the Agent of Change principle in relation to cultural and night- time economy uses. The main focus is on how to apply this when housing is introduced near these types of uses. However the principle applies equally to the introduction or intensification of these types of uses within an area where there is already an established residential population. This is exactly the case within much of the CAZ.
Submission by WECN
The application of the Agent of Change principle means that any new ENTE development needs to mitigate its impact on the existing uses, including residential uses, in the area. This equally applies when the change is to diversify the offering or to modify restriction on hours. This mitigation cannot be limited to the noise impact from the activity itself but needs to take into account all of the impacts of the development including that of the people arriving at and leaving the venue particularly during the night-time period.
We believe that this requirement needs to be made explicit under the heading of “Agent of Change” and that new development proposals for ENTE activities should be required to produce a “Noise and Nuisance Mitigation Plan” similar to a “Delivery and Servicing Plan” which makes clear how they will ensure that the change they are proposing will not have a negative impact on residential amenity. This plan needs to not just cover the immediate area of the premises but also the routes between the premises and the main public transport hubs.
The SPG needs to include the requirement that developments which are part of the ENTE have a “Noise and Nuisance Mitigation Plan” which will ensure that they fulfil their responsibilities as the Agent of Change in an area especially with regard to the impact on the existing residential population.
Mixed Use Areas
In Section 6 (Places) paragraphs 6.12-6.18 discuss the Central Activities Zone. In paragraph 6.17 the SPG asks that:
For areas outside mainly residential neighbourhoods, under policy 2.12Aa boroughs should develop sensitive mixed use policies to ensure that housing does not compromise CAZ strategic functions. Such functions include those clusters of night time activities identified in policy 2.11Ae 2
The implication is that the CAZ can be divided into areas which are “mainly residential” and other areas where housing should not compromise ENTE activities. This fails to recognise that most of the area is already comprises high density mixed uses of which housing is an integral part. It cannot be divided into mainly residential and mainly commercial.
The West End Commission, set up by Westminster Council and led by Sir Howard Bernstein, recognised in its report that the fact that the West End includes a wide mix of uses is part of its attraction as a place to live, visit and work. Preserving the mixed nature of the area is important for the long-term health of the area, which is a key part of the CAZ.
2 Soho/Covent Garden
Submission by WECN
The ENTE uses which have developed in the Soho/Covent Garden area (which is specifically identified in policy 2.11Ae) have already caused significant harm to the residential land uses in the area. If the future development of ENTE uses increases this harm then the change to the character of the area will be irreversible and will cause long-term harm to the objective of enhancing London’s World City status.
Other parts of the CAZ (such as Mayfair, Marylebone, St. James) which have significant residential use are already seeing an increase in night-time uses which are harming residential amenity.
Section 6 of the SPG needs to recognise that within the CAZ it is important that any new or changed ENTE uses are designed and managed in a way which does not compromise existing housing uses and so cause long-term harm to the area.
Management of the ENTE
The SPG makes clear that there is a need for all parties to work together on managing the impact of the ENTE. This is spelled out in Section 7 of the SPG which covers “An integrated approach to managing Night Time culture”. This section of the SPG however misses out any reference to mitigating the anti-social behaviour associated with some parts of the night-time economy, especially that part which includes alcohol and illegal and legal drugs.
In the ENTE the main thing which needs management and mitigation is the behaviour of a minority of the people who use it. Unless this type of behaviour becomes unacceptable it will continue. In order to provide the balance between different uses which the SPG wishes to encourage this needs to be addressed directly. Those who wish to intensify and diversify the ENTE need to robustly deal with those who give it a bad name. Until then it will continue to face resistance from those, including residents, who have to suffer the consequences.
In his Foreword the Mayor states:
We must work with local authorities, residents, revellers, police, local businesses and transport providers. A balanced approach is the key to our success. This document brings together London Plan policies to support the night time economy and culture. It encourages a proactive approach to managing our town centres and cultural clusters. That way we can protect the heartbeat of London’s nightlife our pubs, music and cultural venues and nightclubs.
The view of residents is that it is the revellers, those who use the ENTE, who are not engaged in the process. Until there are real consequences for bad behaviour by revellers, and a good chance that they will suffer them (meaning that they get caught), the ENTE will remain difficult to manage in an integrated way which allows a balanced approach to be pursued.
Submission by WECN
The SPG is seeking to promote an Evening and Night Time Economy which, at least in the CAZ, already causes significant levels of harm to the local community. We agree that “An integrated approach to managing Night Time culture” is very much needed. However, this cannot be done without addressing the behaviour of those who use it. We recognise that this may be regarded as “too difficult” to do, but until it is addressed there will continue to be significant resistance to the intensification of ENTE uses in the CAZ.
Section 7 of the SPG needs to include a paragraph emphasising that the partnership approach required to manage the ENTE must include a focus on dealing with the difficult issue of reducing the level of anti-social behaviour which is associated with it, especially in existing clusters of ENTE uses as shown in Map 1.
Submission by WECN