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Boxpark: Owners apply for booze licence to cover whole top level of Shoreditch pop-up mall...and neighbours aren’t happy

PUBLISHED: 11:03 24 August 2017 | UPDATED: 11:34 24 August 2017

A file image of Boxpark in Shoreditch. Picture: JasonParis/Flickr/Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0

A file image of Boxpark in Shoreditch. Picture: JasonParis/Flickr/Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0

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Sweeping plans to convert the upper deck of Boxpark into one big boozer have not gone down well with neighbours.

Boxpark, Shoreditch. Picture: James Mitchell/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) Boxpark, Shoreditch. Picture: James Mitchell/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The “pop-up” mall in Bethnal Green Road is waiting to hear whether an application for an alcohol licence covering the first floor of the site will be approved.

Boxpark reckons it will allow the authorities to more easily keep an eye on any problems without having to identify which individual business is responsible. Roger Wade, who launched the pop-up mall on the back of his clothing company Boxfresh, has also offered to scrap all major events on the decking.

Negotiations are now taking place with town hall bosses and police, but neighbours are fuming over the plans.

"Literally within weeks of opening and ongoing until now the entire upper deck has become an enormous arena for people to come to Shoreditch and get drunk"

Neighbour of Boxpark

Families living nearby say Boxpark management told them during the planning stages in 2011/12 there would be no licensed premises and the venue would be retail-led, with opportunities for local start-ups. But they say that wasn’t what they got and it “swiftly plummeted downmarket” – earning it the nickname “Boozepark”.

One neighbour wrote: “Literally within weeks of opening and ongoing until now the entire upper deck has become an enormous arena for people to come to Shoreditch and get drunk.

“Many of the premises have served alcohol – without food being served as per their licence – and over the past few years the streets immediately around Boxpark have become a nightly and out-of-control street festival with extremely noisy bands, buskers and drunken marauding revellers who them boisterously invade our neighbourhood shouting, urinating, with often fights and disturbances breaking out.”

"The fear is that any increase in the availability of alcohol would further exacerbate the problems already being experienced"

Hackney Council licensing officer

The same person claimed the fact one third of Boxpark is in Tower Hamlets adds to the problem.

“It is a ‘Kafkaesque’ and demoralising situation when the Hackney noise department reminds you, a day or more later after reporting an issue, that you are NOT IN THE BOROUGH,” they said. “It is no wonder people give up complaining and simply give up and leave.”

Twenty neighbours have objected to the application, some of whom have said they now leave the area at weekends so they and their children can get a good night’s sleep.

"The reality is the current application for one central licence will actually reduce the number of licenses at and ensure any alcohol consumed is under the control of our management"

Owner Roger Wade

Town hall licensing bosses also raised issues about an umbrella licence because they are already concerned about the site operating as a “single large destination venue”.

“The fear is that any increase in the availability of alcohol would further exacerbate the problems already being experienced,” one officer wrote.

Police also questioned Boxpark’s ability to run the venue after two restaurants applied for individual licences while the umbrella application was pending.

Pc Kerrie Ryan said: “There appears to be some confusion over who is in charge of these units, which causes police concern with regards to the management, organisation and responsibility of Boxpark as an operator.”

Roger Wade, who has since opened Boxpark Croydon, said his team were working to resolve concerns with the authorities.

“The reality is the current application for one central licence will actually reduce the number of licenses at and ensure any alcohol consumed is under the control of our management. Since opening in December 2011, Boxpark has had no major alcohol related crime incidents.

“The current licensing proposal was initially proposed by Hackney Council and has the support of Hackney Council and should increase the control and reduce the amount of alcohol consumed at Boxpark.

“Under the proposed new licence arrangement Boxpark have voluntarily proposed to surrender all major events on the decking areas. This should lead to a reduction in any potential complaints from local residents.”

Regarding telling neighbours it would be retail-led, Mr Wade said Boxpark had to “move with the times” but the majority of retailers were still small independent businesses.

“The reality is Boxpark has hundreds of thousands of visitors each year who quietly enjoy the food and drink,” he added. “We are also home to over 30 small businesses and employ over 300 young people.”

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