Highgate pub's licensing application approved amid noise concerns

The Gatehouse, in North Road, Highgate. Picture: Archant

The Gatehouse, in North Road, Highgate. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A historic Highgate pub can extend its business into an empty adjoining restaurant, but has been told to have regular meetings with residents who have complained about gardens being used as a toilet.

The Gatehouse pub, in North Road, asked for a licence for the former ground floor restaurant Messapica in Hampstead Lane, increasing the number of diners by 80.

The pub serves British food with a Spanish influence and can already accommodate 120 diners inside, with more seating available outside.

The independent, award-winning theatre Upstairs At The Gatehouse is on the first floor.

Staff met neighbours earlier in the week and altered the application.

However, seven residents still had concerns and four people told Camden’s licensing panel on Thursday (February 3) that noise from the pub garden and rubbish left by customers, including some who used their gardens as a toilet, have made their lives a misery.

Susan Trackman said: “The garden has caused us a lot of problems and it got so bad we have had to go round and complain.”

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Another neighbour, Vicki Lee, said the problems got worse after lockdown as people used the pub garden more and couldn't go to bed before 11pm because of the noise.

“We get noise twelve hours a day,” she said, and feared expansion into the next door restaurant would mean “all the problems are going to be magnified”.

She said there were also problems as “people urinated all over our garden, they defecate and vomit all over our garden”.

Caroline Lane said she had the same problem of people using her drive as a toilet.

Malc Heap from Urban, which runs the pub, said: “It’s not often people walk straight out of the door and start urinating. We don’t recognise that at all.”

Caroline said bottles and other rubbish have been left in the area.

“We don’t want to spend every Saturday night going round and complaining,” she said.

Christina Nolan told the council that “noise from the pub already causes me great inconvenience, making my own garden almost never quiet, and the noise from the pub garden sometimes makes it difficult for me to sleep, and watch television”.

Manager David Campbell told the licensing committee: “I don’t recognise that boozy crowd.”

He said pub staff move people on when they can and said that after lockdown people in the area gathered in the Pond Square area and left rubbish. He said the pub took it on itself to do litter-picks.

“Any complaints, we always take them seriously and deal with them straight away,” he added.

Heap said the extended restaurant area was not likely to be open most of the week, when demand is lower.

“We hope this adds value to the community, not detracts from it," he said.

The garden will shut at 11pm on Mondays to Saturdays and 10.30pm on Sundays.

Staff will do daily litter picks where customers congregate.

While approving a license to serve alcohol and play recorded music, the committee imposed new conditions including no live or recorded music in garden.

It said speakers in the garden, that are there for background noise, must be removed.

Customers can only get table service in the pub garden.

The management team has to draw up a new dispersal policy and have monthly meetings with residents for six months so they can discuss any concerns.

The licence allowance comes at a time of revival for some Highgate pubs.

The Winchester in Archway Road was granted a new premises licence by Haringey Council's licensing sub committee in January.

Brendan the Navigator, in Highgate Hill, opposite Waterlow Park, opened last year, but reopened last month following a restructure.

There were celebrations as plans to build six new homes which would have removed the Brendan's rear terrace, were rejected by Islington Council. 

Planning permission still has to be granted for any material changes to Gatehouse's next door restaurant.