Council committee reject concerns about harassment and noise
Sacred Heart School on Hammersmith Road. Picture: Google Streetview
May 11, 2023
Licensing authorities have approved a new pub next to Sacred Heart School despite concerns about girls at the school being harassed by customers and their lessons being disrupted.
Yummy Pubs Limited can serve drinks on and off site till midnight, Hammersmith and Fulham Council said, but will have to bar anyone with a school uniform from its pub on 206- 208 Hammersmith Road.
In a confrontational licensing meeting on Wednesday night, 10 May, lawyers for Sacred Heart High School in Hammersmith – which is placed within the top three per cent nationally – said they’re concerned about female students being catcalled and whistled at by customers drinking outside.
They were also worried drunk customers could stumble from the kerbside and into oncoming traffic, which they claim is already rammed by people and students trying to get to Hammersmith underground station across the road.
James Rankin, who represented the all-girls Catholic school, said, “We do not say that these fears are fanciful. As you’ll recall the premises was once licensed as a restaurant known as Villaggio – and even though it was a restaurant, and even though everyone had to sit down, and even though everyone had to have a meal in order to consume intoxicating liquor, we still had problems.”
He said students regularly had their class time disrupted by workers emptying bucket-loads of empty glass bottles into bins and delivery drivers arriving during school hours.
Mr Rankin said the school was also concerned about the behaviour of drinkers outside and the congestion caused at home time.
He said, “On a hot summer’s day, the owners could have as many people as they want consuming alcohol outside and we don’t want that to happen because there is a massive conflict between 1,000 girls and men at the pub, drinking and consuming alcohol.”
He also shot down Yummy Pubs’ claim it was opening a restaurant. He said, “If they were applying for a restaurant instead of a pub, I couldn’t argue against that but they’re applying for a pub and it doesn’t matter that the premises has had a licence for years and years and years – they’ve never been licensed as a pub and there’s a big difference.”
Lawyers representing Yummy Pubs, which runs two other pubs in Euston and Mile End, claimed their client was “an accomplished and experienced and fit-and-proper applicant providing a premium offer with exceptional service” and had a “strong history of compliance”.
Anthony Pender from TLT solicitors said the venue was not a “back-seat boozer” and his client had already agreed to a number of conditions to stop students sneaking in, including a challenge 25 policy and ensuring kids are accompanied by a parent at all times.
He said his client has also vowed to make sure deliveries and waste collection happens out of school hours.
He said, “There seems to have been a lot of talk about it being a public house and I am at a loss to understand that, but even if it was a public house – I am bound to ask, well, what is a public house? There are bounds of public houses with Michelin stars who are providing excellent food and service.”
Instead, Yummy Pubs wants to run a kitchen that sells premium British food, as well as local wines and beers in smaller-than-average glasses, Matthew Phipps said, who was also representing the pub.
Mr Pender added, “It sounds awfully like an objection to a licenced premises that are anything other than a restaurant and it cannot be the conclusion of any committee that anything that doesn’t have a substantial table meal condition is inherently, as night follows days, going to cause issues difficulties and fundamentally undermine the licensing objectives.”
He accused the school of “catasprophising” and claimed the small number of seats outside would be unlikely to lead to people being pushed onto the road or students being harassed.
In its decision, the licensing committee said Yummy Pubs couldn’t open its door before 6am Monday to Friday during term time and must remove tables and chairs outside of licensing hours.
Sacred Heart School, which has 1,200 pupils aged between 11 and 18 years, said opening a pub so close by was “a significant cause for concern”, according to council documents.
In a letter to the committee, the school’s lawyers said, “The premises proposed operating hours is for the entire duration of the school day and after, there are worries that this will enable young children the ability to enter and frequent the premises during the school day.”
They claimed students have been harassed outside the school in the past and worry the outdoor furniture would block one of the fire exits.
It added: “It is also considered that individuals having a drink whilst standing outside the premises would be in direct conflict with the movements of several hundred parents and children leaving at the end of the school day. This congestion would be of grave concern to the school.”
- Local Democracy Reporter