Overlock Arts: Hackney venue loses alcohol bid after ‘plaguing’ street with ‘breathtakingly loud’ music

Overlock Arts in Belsham Street

Overlock Arts in Belsham Street - Credit: Thomas Andrews

A bid to turn “what was someone’s house till a few months ago” into a club has been rejected after dozens of neighbours complained organisers had already been breaching licensing conditions and “plaguing” them with “breathtakingly loud music” until the early hours.

Opponents to Overlock Arts licensing application rejoice outside the town hall after the licensing s

Opponents to Overlock Arts licensing application rejoice outside the town hall after the licensing sub-committee rejected it. - Credit: Thomas Andrews

Overlock Arts sought permission from Hackney Council to put on plays, films, music and dance, and to serve alcohol until 11pm at the former Victorian textiles factory in Belsham Street, Hackney.

But dubious neighbours feared it would amount to little more than an excuse to hold club nights in the quiet backstreet.

They pointed out Overlock’s first two events, held in December under temporary event notices, had overrun by several hours. The first, on December 8, was granted a temporary event notice until 2am but, according to one neighbour, “operated with a sound system until 4am and the party continued until 5.30am with loud altercations taking place between customers, security staff and taxi drivers”.

Police had been called to the events, which sparked multiple complaints to the council of excessive noise nuisance and anti-social behaviour.

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More than 60 objections were filed with the planning sub-committee. One Belsham Street neighbour described how they had only realised the venue was holding an event on New Year’s Eve when they tried to leave their house that evening.

“My doorstep had been cordoned off and designated as a smoking area,” they said. “I was told this with great authority by one of the two security guards manning the doorway to the venue.”

Overlock Arts in Belsham Street

Overlock Arts in Belsham Street - Credit: Thomas Andrews

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Another with chronic health conditions they said were made worse by missing a night’s sleep said the application filled them “with dread”.

“They have already been plaguing us with their parties, filming music videos on the roof, and breathtakingly loud music going on all night,” they wrote.

They said they counted over 50 people partying on the roof at New Year - although that space is not believed to be owned by Overlock Arts - and they alleged: “There was a strong smell of weed and people drinking, smoking and shouting. They also lit fire braziers on the roof. Is that all licensed?”

Another person complained: “The police were called out because of noise disturbance. Customers spilled out onto the pavement, some urinating and vomiting on the road and in the gardens opposite, some drinking from bottles concealed behind cars on the road, and others having noisy arguments and altercations. The security staff did nothing to prevent this.

“The downstairs venue employed smoke effects which they were unable to contain and which spread throughout the building.”

Petitions were also filed from residents at the Textile Building in Chatham Place and Trelawney Estate.

Councillors expressed concerned about the health and safety risks posed by the old warehouse, and rejected the application.

One of the 30 objectors who turned up to the licensing sub-committee meeting told the Gazette: “At the hearing, Overlock presented some proposed mitigating measures to attempt to reduce our concerns, which included handing out lollipops to people leaving the venue and asking local taxi firms to remind drivers not to slam doors when collecting.”

Overlock Arts was approached for comment.

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