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Deliveroo could face censure for 'unlawfully' operating kitchen in Barnsbury industrial estate

PUBLISHED: 12:09 16 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:16 16 February 2018

The Deliveroo Editions unit in Roman Way Industrial Estate. Picture: James Morris

The Deliveroo Editions unit in Roman Way Industrial Estate. Picture: James Morris

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Deliveroo faces censure after Islington Council found it has been operating a kitchen “unlawfully” in Roman Way Industrial Estate.

The Deliveroo Editions unit in Roman Way Industrial Estate. Picture: James MorrisThe Deliveroo Editions unit in Roman Way Industrial Estate. Picture: James Morris

The food delivery giant moved into the estate, between Offord Road and Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station, in October.

But it didn’t seek planning permission from the council – despite its own consultant admitting its presence has resulted in up to 1,000 moped delivery journeys every day.

Instead, it applied for a “certificate of lawfulness” in December. This was rejected by Islington Council yesterday afternoon.

The council’s enforcement team could now choose to force Deliveroo to apply for retrospective planning permission – which if rejected would force it to shut the kitchen down.

But a Deliveroo spokesman this morning said the company is well within its rights to operate on the site, and has been backed by a top lawyer. He called on Islington to explain its decision and said Deliveroo will appeal.

The company has been using a unit as a commercial kitchen for its new “Deliveroo Editions” arm. Deliveroo’s main business is sending drivers to restaurants to pick up meals for home delivery. But under Deliveroo Editions, restaurants send chefs to cook in Deliveroo’s Roman Way unit for direct delivery from the industrial estate. Its unit has five kitchens with opening hours between 11am and 11pm every day.

Roman Way Industrial Estate was built in 1981. Picture: James MorrisRoman Way Industrial Estate was built in 1981. Picture: James Morris

In a cover letter to the council, planning consultant Firstplan – representing Deliveroo – said the premises were originally given planning permission as a light industrial unit in 1981. Therefore, it said Deliveroo didn’t need to seek further permission as its food production business fits into the “light industrial” definition. Deliveroo employed a top lawyer, Sasha White QC, to support this view.

But Karen Sullivan, Islington’s service director for planning, rejected it yesterday. Her ruling said: “It is considered that the existing use of the site as a Deliveroo Editions commercial kitchen and delivery centre is not light industry use due to the nature of how the business operates, which is considered to be materially different in scope, scale and intensity to light industry use.

“Therefore, the operation cannot lawfully operate under [the original planning permission in 1981] on the site because planning permission is required for a change of use in this case. Therefore, the existing use is not lawful.”

The Deliveroo spokesman responded this morning: “As with many new innovations, we understand that some people may have questions about how it works. We have repeatedly been advised that we have the right licence for the Editions site in Islington, which is supported by the fact that other London councils have concluded it is the appropriate licence for Editions in their boroughs.

“We hope Islington Council will explain their decision and we continue to offer to work with them to address any concerns they may have.”

Islington could also claim compensation from the company if any appeal is rejected by the government.

One Offord Road homeowner has called for action against Deliveroo's presence in Roman Way Industrial Estate, which has resulted in up to 1,000 extra moped journeys a day. Picture: James MorrisOne Offord Road homeowner has called for action against Deliveroo's presence in Roman Way Industrial Estate, which has resulted in up to 1,000 extra moped journeys a day. Picture: James Morris

Meanwhile, one piece of planning permission Deliveroo did apply for was “external extraction equipment” at its unit.

But this has prompted a campaign in neighbouring Offord Road against the company’s presence in the industrial estate.

An unnamed homeowner sent flyers through letterboxes on Wednesday, calling for people to object.

Referring to up to 1,000 scooters a day accessing the site from Offord Road or Roman Way, as well as its 12-hour opening times, she or he said: “The development would substantially change the noise and atmosphere within our residential area – which is also a designated conservation area.

“As a homeowner in Offord Road, I feel very strongly that this development would have a significant detrimental impact upon the area and its residents.”

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