24-hour City Road McDonald's given go-ahead by council

McDonald's in City Road, Hackney

McDonald's in City Road, which has just been granted a 24-hour round-the-clock licence - Credit: Google Street View

The drive-through McDonald's in City Road has been granted permission to open around-the-clock by Hackney Council, despite one neighbour's claims car horns honking throughout the night are making his life hell.

AML Restaurants Ltd, a franchise of the American fast food chain, made a bid to extend its late night licence from 2am until 5am.

Emma Plouviez and Brian Bell, the only two councillors sitting on Hackney Council's licensing sub-committee last week, made the decision to grant the licence on a temporary year-long basis.

They heard from one objector named only as Matthew.

He questioned why the series of measures McDonald's has pledged to reduce the impact of the noise on its neighbours, hadn't already been implemented after complaints were made about its 2am licence extension.

"When you all go to bed at night and have a lovely night's sleep, wonderful for you," he said.

"It's me who's woken up by McDonald's' alarm and the cars hooting,

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"It's me who hears the person vomiting outside.

"As much as McDonald's has promised to stop car horns they have no control over people honking their horns, and people will honk their horns if they want to and my sleep and other people's sleep will be disturbed," he added.

"They don't care about residents. They care about one thing and that is selling burgers.

"This is a residential area, but they are turning it into a location in its own right."

He recounted his desire to move out of his council flat which is thwarted once people see the fast-food drive-through below.

"I'm on a low income. I have a low wage. I can't move," he said.

"I'm trapped here. The main reasons other people don't put in objections is because the ones on the Islington side don't know about the application, and the ones on my side are apathetic.

"We have a group chat and I've seen 127 incidents of people having problems, but they struggle with the laborious task of going through the antisocial behaviour sheets [to log the complaint with the council]."

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Cllr Plouviez said it was clear from a video Matthew had submitted that "if one person hoots and another person shouts it's very loud".

The barrister for the applicant, Gary Grant, said that as Matthew was the "sole residential objector", his objection was "a private matter", rather than a public nuisance, which would be legally relevant to the planning committee.

"It is not to dismiss the concerns of Matthew, but those concerns have to be weighed into the balance with the overriding interests of the rest of the community and the users of McDonald's," he said.

"To put it into context each year there are some 700,000 customers of this branch, and 210,000 use the drive through.

"We wish to serve the customers who wish to use our restaurants, and those customers who don't have 9-5 jobs and - as is increasing in London - those who work night shifts and emergency workers."

Mr Grant outlined some of the 40 conditions included in the application to mitigate the noise impact, like automatic number plate recognition to prevent customers who hoot their horns from using the restaurant if they try to return, extra staffing, turning off the wi-fi at midnight, and turning on a "night time sound mode", so the drive-through microphone is muted.

"It will cost a lot of money to implement these measures outside, and that has to be paid for and that is paid for by the extra revenue they will get by the extra hours which will replace the existing licence," he said.

"I'm surprised that none of these measures have happened already between 11pm and 2am given those are hours that a lot of people sleep," said Cllr Plouviez.

"This is a huge number of people going through."

Police withdrew their objection to the application ahead of a hearing by Hackney's licensing sub-committee, but had flagged concerns the later opening would disturb residents who overlook the venue throughout the night.

Although several trial runs, authorised through temporary event notices, had run smoothly they were concerned it "will be a completely different story" once the 24/7 opening is advertised by the likes of JustEat and Deliveroo and drunken customers turn up.