Chicken Cottage on North End Road. Picture: Google Streetview
February 12, 2024
A North End Road chicken shop previously reprimanded for selling food beyond its licensing hours has had an application to stay open later refused. Chicken Cottage, a chain which offers both takeaway and delivery options, had been hoping to push back its opening hours at its local shop by an hour, as well as removing a host of conditions on its current licence.
Hammersmith and Fulham councillors however rejected the submission, citing previous instances of it not abiding by its operating restrictions, and local concerns of the potentially increased noise and antisocial behaviour. The current premises licence enables Chicken Cottage to open at 10:30am, with its closing times listed as 1am Sunday to Thursday, and 2am Friday and Saturday. The licence further notes it can sell ‘late-night refreshment’ from 11pm each evening, to end at the same time as the shop shuts.
While the initial submission was requesting to extend this to be able to continue with takeaway orders until 3am Sunday to Thursday, and 4am Friday and Saturday, the applicant amended this during the Licensing Sub-Committee meeting, to an extra hour across the board.
Councillors on the sub-committee earlier this week voted to refuse the amended application, though did agree to the removal of some of the requested conditions, including ensuring all fire-resisting and smoke doors to be self-closing.
Ahead of the meeting, objections to the application were received from groups including residents, Cllr Ben Coleman, Deputy Leader of the Council, who had been contacted by concerned constituents, and all three responsible authorities; the police, the Environmental Public Protection-Nuisance, and the council’s licensing team.
Adrian Overton, Licensing Team Manager at the council, wrote of multiple occasions when Cottage Chicken staff sold food to customers beyond its operating hours. “We have offered extensive advice to [licence holder] Mr Uddin since our first interaction with him in April 2023,” he wrote. “Despite this advice and guidance, we have still witnessed unlicensed activities on a number of occasions.
“Whilst we appreciate that the business passed a test purchase in May 2023, we are concerned that there are inadequate management controls in place to ensure compliance on an ongoing basis, if a permanent variation to this licence were to be granted. We are also aware that a number of conditions, and a reduction in hours, have recently been agreed with the Police licensing team.”
During the meeting, a number of residents spoke of their concerns regarding Chicken Cottage’s application. The impact of the additional noise, the potential ‘creep’ of other late-night takeaways seeking similar extensions, and the behaviour of delivery drivers were among the points raised.
John Skoulding, who was speaking on behalf of several residents, said, “Unlike a piece of chicken which is a really nice luxury to have at 3 o’clock in the morning, sleep is not a luxury. It is a necessity.”
Tom Cocoran, a representative of Chicken Cottage who spoke in-place of the shop’s licence holder Faheem Uddin, who could not attend, said many of the issues raised had occurred under a previous franchisee, and that they have ‘taken steps’ to improve compliance.
While accepting there had been issues at the shop, he told the sub-committee, “There will always be disturbances in London. There will always be cars, there will always be trucks at night, there will always be the opportunity for disturbance.”
On the issue of drivers’ behaviour, Cllr Dominic Stanton asked why, if Chicken Cottage understood changes to the way it runs the service are necessary, why it had done nothing so far.
Mr Corcoran responded saying it was currently scoping the prospect of hiring its own drivers and managing them directly, which would help mitigate some of the issues raised.
Ben Lynch - Local Democracy Reporter