Wine school gets go-ahead to open on Warren Street despite residents’ noise fears

The shop front at 57 Warren Street. Photograph: Fitzrovia News

A new wine merchant and tasting school focusing on teaching people to appreciate wine can open in a former bakers’ shop in an 18th-century block in central London despite concerns it could disturb families nearby.

Entrepreneur Chris Cassell told Camden’s licensing committee there will be a strong focus on education at the business on Warren Street and he has taken steps to avoid disturbing residents.

His company Must and Lees already runs wine-tasting courses and sells bottles of wine at a residential area in Barnsbury.

“I love wine, an understanding of wine can lead you into geography and different cultures,” Mr  Cassell told Camden’s licensing committee.

Four nearby residents objected and said the street has become increasingly noisy as new venues has opened.

Victoria Swift said Warren Street has  “a ‘canyon effect’ where noise at ground level becomes amplified at the floors above. Even small numbers of people are able to make an impact due to the nature of the environment, those under the influence of alcohol are prone to become even noisier and inconsiderate.”

David McAllister, who lives nearby, said with 10 licensed venues on the street “another licensed property on the street is not necessary nor desirable.”

Marc Finney wrote to the council in support and said it “will add to the character of the improving area and by occupying the building with a suitable use it will prevent degradation from an empty building which might attract anti-social behaviour. “

He said the applicants “have given good regard to how the premises will be operated and have proposed good measures to ensure the premises will be well-run.”

Linus Rees spoke on behalf of residents nearby, including a family with a young child who live above the flat, as well as the Charlotte Street Association.

He said the wine-tasting classes in the basement are unlikely to have much impact but feared a wine bar could disturb residents.

“I think it’s wholly unsuitable to have a wine bar in the premises,” he said.

As the building dates to the eighteenth century he pointed out  that “these flats are poorly sound insulated and rely on the front windows for ventilation. They are typical of many street properties in the area.”

He said the wine bar “is of greatest concern” with space for  customers inside and outside and the opening hours are “unreasonable”.

“It is inevitable that  with a wine bar there will be some kind of nuisance.”

He asked the council to reject requests to sell alcohol for on-sales “to balance the interests of expected business activity with the right of nearby residents to the quiet enjoyment of their homes.”

Mr Rees also suggested banning customers drinking wine outside.

Applicant Chris Cassell said the different revenue streams were “essential to the business” in Warren Street.

Outdoor tables would close earlier than indoors, he said to avoid disturbing residents.

He said: “It is a mixed-use street,” and pointed out several restaurants have seats on the street.

“I have gone for timings that are significantly lower than everyone else on the street.”

He explained he has taken steps to avoid problems, with the latest closing hour at 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

It would be open between 10am and 9pm on Mondays to Wednesdays and noon to 6pm on Sundays.

“We focus on wine education and we have an absolute zero tolerance on drunkenness,” said Mr Cassell.

He said the venue also has spittoons so people can taste wine responsibly and offers free water and deliveries will be limited to day times.

The venue also has “extremely limited seating” and he said it would not be a wine bar.

“It’s not an environment for people to get drunk in. It’s an environment for people to sit down and try wines,” he said.

He told Camden’s licensing committee: “There’s a strong argument that we can create an environment that is less nuisance than an unlicensed premises such as a coffee shop.”

He added: “I’m really trying to create an environment that works for everyone.”

He added environmental health and the police made no comments.

“I spent time trying to put everything I could think of and added more when speaking to residents.”

The licensing committee unanimously approved the application.

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