Old Sessions House: Clerkenwell Green campaigners not happy with hotel chain’s alcohol licence bid

Old Sessions House.

Old Sessions House. - Credit: Archant

A hotel developer’s attempts to endear itself to the Clerkenwell Green community ahead of its office move into a Grade-II listed building have not worked.

Campaigners outside Old Sessions House in 2016.

Campaigners outside Old Sessions House in 2016. - Credit: Archant

Ennismore, which runs hospitality brands including the Hoxton hotel chain, wrote a “dear neighbour” letter to introduce itself to people living near Old Sessions House.

The firm, which is already in St John Street, Clerkenwell, is moving its office onto the first and second floors and is taking over the basement for meeting rooms and private hire.

It wants to sell booze to staff and guests from 10am to 11pm Sunday to Thursday and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

But the neighbours it hoped to befriend have previously successfully seen off two attempts by Satilla – the artist brothers who bought the building in 2014 – for a booze licence, because of the proposed late-night hours.

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And now they say Ennismore has ignored their requests for suitable closing times and submitted a similar application.

Ahead of the licence hearing on Thursday, 33 people have objected, as well as the Friends of Clerkenwell Green group.

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Ennismore say chiefs had met Islington Council and police ahead of the submission of “comprehensive licence conditions to tightly control” the use of the building.

But campaigner Leora Neidle told the Gazette: “We’re still not happy. They want a staff bar and we have an example of a similar licence on the green already. They spoke with residents beforehand, who wanted it to be shorter hours. So now that’s 5pm to 9pm.

“They also want to rent out some office space for meetings with alcohol and food. We have an example of this too, Wallacespace, metres away. That has the same hours.

“We are very happy to have Ennismore, we just want them to be in line with their peers. We spoke to them about this before they filed this application and sent them conditions saying we will write in support of the application if they agreed. But they failed to do this.”

One neighbour’s objection, published ahead of the meeting, said: “The omni-shambles of the Burberry fashion show in Old Sessions House demonstrated completely that the local residents’ concerns for licensed events were fully justified and a very real risk to the local community and the protected character of Clerkenwell Green.”

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