Fears late-night clampdown will ‘kill our culture’ in Dalston

MArk Shaffer

MArk Shaffer - Credit: Archant

A businessman fears Dalston will lose its crown as one of London’s coolest and most creative night spots after councillors approved plans for late-night businesses to close earlier.

The licensing committee recommended town hall bosses introduce a special policy area (SPA) allowing them to refuse or tightly control new late-night applications – despite 84 per cent of those consulted opposing.

More than 2,400 people wrote to the council during the 12-week consultation period to say they opposed the scheme which would cover Kingsland Road from the junction of Middleton Road in the south to the junction with Stoke Newington Road in the north.

The council say it is considering the move due to numerous complaints from local residents and ward councillors about noise and anti-social behaviour in connection with licensed premises.

Police also expressed concerns about the negative impacts of the night-time economy in Dalston such as increases in theft and anti-social behaviour – citing a 55 per cent increase in alcohol-related ambulance callouts between 2008 and 2012.

However, the man behind some of Dalston’s hippest venues such as The Alibi in Kingsland High Street, Birthdays in Stoke Newington Road and the White Rabbit in Bradbury Street, believes the move will kill Dalston’s creativity and attractiveness as a place to go.

Mark Shaffer, 45, of Shrubland Road, Haggerston, said: “It’s an absolute hammer blow for the area.

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“I live here and love the area. I really believe in what we are doing. The SPA will mess up the culture that re-energised and re-invigorated Dalston.

“Dalston will become less attractive as a late-night proposition, particularly with events such as Efes’s hours being cut back and police being slow to give out late-night temporary licences.

“The SPA will push up rents and deter the independents. It will be difficult to bring something different such as late-night theatre to the area.”

He added: “The council are steering the Titanic towards the iceberg. We really don’t want to go there.”

Hackney Police borough commander Matthew Horne said: “Nobody wants to quell anybody’s fun. Dalston has a great nightlife but the night time economy has reached its tipping point. Dalston is not going to be hampered by a lack of new venues. It has reached saturation point.”

A council spokesman said: “The council have been recommended to pass the decision made by the licensing committee to pass a special policy area for Dalston.”

The council previously carried out a consultation for an SPA in 2010 but decided against it due to lack of public support.