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Hampstead late-night drinking welcomed by residents

PUBLISHED: 14:13 08 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:47 07 September 2010

Natalie Satchell and Jonny Donahoe

Natalie Satchell and Jonny Donahoe

A Hampstead pub set to break the age-old taboo of late night drinking has been met with a surprising wave of support, although careworn residents have yet to be convinced. The Roebuck in Pond Street, opposite the Royal Free Hospital, has applied for a 2am

A Hampstead pub set to break the age-old taboo of late night drinking has been met with a surprising wave of support, although careworn residents have yet to be convinced.

The Roebuck in Pond Street, opposite the Royal Free Hospital, has applied for a 2am licence on Fridays and Saturdays for its 40-capacity basement bar.

Manager Natalie Satchell hopes to keep a high-class feel to the nightclub with plans for a members-only champagne, cocktail and wine bar. The application also includes a live music licence for Fridays and Saturdays.

Young people in the area have rounded in support of the project, which promises to be Hampstead's only late-night venue.

But residents' groups, local councillors and the Heath and Hampstead Society have a different view and have written to council bosses to object.

"There is no demand in Hampstead for a nightclub," said Tony Hillier, chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society.

"The argument that Hampstead needs more places to drink late is a myth. All places that opened late have not been successful. The Roebuck's new ownership has changed things for the worse. New owners always come in with a new concept and this concept is to have a nightclub."

Lib Dem councillor for Hampstead, Linda Chung said: "Hampstead isn't a nightclub sort of place. I love the Roebuck but I hope that it won't turn into a late night drinking place. Residents are very unhappy about the noise coming from there. People will inevitably cause a nuisance as they leave and enter so late."

Older residents have already been incensed by the council's 2005 decision to extend the Roebuck's licence until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Among objectors then was spin doctor Amanda Platell. But Natalie Satchell, the pub's manager, hit back this week. She said: "We want it as a nice cocktail bar, with cocktails, champagne and wine only. We will only have one draught lager, so it's based on that end of the market. It will be a members bar, for the people in the upstairs pub to be able to come down for more of a drink.

"People are worried that there will be live music and that it will be a nightclub, but that is all unfounded. There won't be any 99p pints here.

"I've run a couple of pubs in Hampstead now and there just isn't that kind of bar in the area. I used to run the Flask in Flask Walk. To become a member of our bar you would have to look at the website and come and have a chat with me.

"The basement bar reopened in November, and the bar got a good old tidy up and now feels really homely. We've restored it to its former glory. It now has a fire also.

"Smoking outside has always caused problems - I want to come to a conclusion everybody is happy with."

One young drinker, Rajan Bijlani, 24 from Hampstead, was also supportive. He said: "I think it's really good. You need a place to drink, because otherwise there's nowhere to go and you end up going to Camden and having to spend money on a taxi."

Ian Walker, 27 from Camden Town, added: "It would be nicer to have a quiet drink later. Overall I'm definitely positive about the idea of later closing. If I had some friends over the chance to have a drink a bit later would be great.


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