A new “destination restaurant” set to open in a former radio station is hoping the stars will align and it can work with residents who have concerns about potential noise.
Japanese restaurant and bar Orion’s Belt plans to open on the busy Euston Road in a large two-storey space backing on to Warren Street.
The building was once used as a base for Capital Radio and has been a showroom and storage space since.
The team behind the new eatery said “Orion’s Belt will be an upmarket restaurant and not a bar or a takeaway”.
It will have a maximum of 150 to 200 diners at any time.
The team said it wants to work with residents, including those who live above the restaurant, to ensure they are not affected.
Nineteen residents wrote to Camden Council about the application. They were concerned about noise and possible increases in crime in the area.
They fear criminals could pretend to be delivery drivers if some are waiting outside for food collections and rob unsuspecting customers and residents.
Warren Streeet has seen an increase in mobile phone snatches by people on scooters, they explained.
One resident told the council: “Drugs sales and usage already blight the area, as do pickpocketing and mobile phone snatching.”
Paris Hadjiantonis, who spoke on behalf of residents, said they were worried about noise, rubbish removal and feared disruption from traffic dropping people off and picking them up.
He also highlighted concerns about security and was worried about a residential staircase being used as an emergency exit.
Edith Lake, for the restaurant, assured residents there are no plans for takeaways and there will not be any motorbike couriers congregating outside.
She told Camden’s licensing committee: “It’s a destination restaurant for people to eat at, and the management has been very careful and has a sensitive approach.”
She said people waiting for a table will be asked to wait inside and will be seated quickly. Those wanting a taxi will also be asked to stay indoors until it arrives to minimise disruption in the street.
Lake said people will be asked to leave via Euston Road and the staircase would only ever be used in an emergency if designated by a fire risk assessment.
“We would be really quite strict about that,” she added.
Local resident Ben Jones told the licensing committee: “I cannot fathom this going ahead.”
He fears disruption if there was noise, rubbish, or drunk people leaving seven nights a week until 11pm, saying it “would make life absolute hell for me, and all the residents within the building and neighbouring dwellings”.
Lake said rubbish will be dealt with inside the restaurant and “bottling out”, or putting bottles out for collection, would be done no later than 6.30pm.
She said: “Staff training will be of paramount importance to us and there will also be CCTV.”
The eatery will also be getting new soundproofing, she explained.
Cllr Adam Harrison said he is concerned about the “risk of large numbers of people gathering in this less commercial part of Warren Street”.
He said: “As well as the noise outside I would also be concerned about noise transference from the premises up into the residential properties above.”
The Charlotte Street Association “strongly objected” to the application.
The Association’s Clive Henderson said: “It’s an unusually large restaurant in Fitzrovia with 150 to 200 covers.”
He asked for more details about seating plans and outlined concerns about noise.
He said Warren Street is a residential area and said people valued their peace, adding: “Bank holidays are very quiet in Fitzrovia.”
Lake said Euston Road is very noisy, with buses stopping outside the restaurant until late.
She said tables will be spaced for privacy rather than packed in closely together.
The applicants set out a detailed dispersal policy and said they “recognise the importance of clearing the immediate vicinity of the licensed premises at the end of the evening, making sure that all our customers leave without causing disturbance or any other disorder”.
Customers will be banned from taking alcohol or glass away and the bar will stop serving 30 minutes before closing. People will be encouraged to leave gradually over that time.
In a letter to residents, the management said: “Despite the size of the premises, I do not wish to have a large number of patrons attending, the space will be open plan with a relaxed atmosphere.
Camden’s licencing committee approved the new licence but said it must close at 10.30pm on Sundays, rather than 11pm as requested.