An “illegal” bar said to be affecting people living nearby could be taken to court after refusing to shut down.

Hackney Council says it is planning to escalate a dispute with U7 Lounge in Orsman Road to the courts, claiming the operator has breached two planning enforcement notices.

The venue has submitted plans to the council to retrospectively change the use of the site from offices to a community workspace, restaurant, café and bar.

According to Hackney’s licensing register, U7 Lounge was issued a premises licence in April 2021, despite not having planning permission to be run as a bar.

Hackney Council said an initial planning enforcement notice, preventing the use of the indoor part of the site as a bar and restaurant, was issued in summer 2019.

The bar was closed by March 2020, as the Covid pandemic shut down the hospitality industry across the UK.

But the council claims the unauthorised use of the venue later began again and expanded, forcing officials to issue a second enforcement notice covering the outside area in summer 2022.

The operator appealed the second notice, but this was dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate in December last year.

This decision told the operator to stop using the canalside area and car park as a drinking venue.

Hackney Council says the effect of both enforcement notices is to prevent the use of both the inside and outside of U7 Lounge as a bar and restaurant.

It added that the site continues to be used as a drinking venue, forcing it to escalate the dispute to the courts.

A spokesperson for the council said: “It is disappointing that the operator continues to be in breach of two planning enforcement notices that have been issued in recent years, requiring the U7 Lounge venue to cease trading.

"While our enforcement notices act to legally prevent the use of the site as a bar, the council does not itself have powers to physically force the shutdown of a venue on the basis there is no planning permission.

“The case is now being prepared for escalation to the courts to bring about a prosecution of the owner and operator.

“However, this process can be completely avoided if activities at this venue are ceased with immediate effect.

“The council will continue to advise residents who are negatively affected and hope for a speedy resolution to permanently close the venue as soon as possible.”

 U7 Lounge declined to comment when approached by Hackney Gazette.