Swiss Cottage Deliveroo's neighbours face a tense few weeks as they wait for planning inquiry's result
PUBLISHED: 11:37 02 August 2019 | UPDATED: 13:44 02 August 2019
Campaigners against the Deliveroo kitchens in Swiss Cottage face a nervous wait to see whether a planning inspector will tell the food delivery giant to leave.
During three days of evidence inspector Diane Lewis heard neighbours' woes about the smells coming from the kitchen, noise from delivery vehicles and the danger on the roads and pavements from riders.
In her closing submission, Esther Drabkin-Reiter, representing the group of Swiss Cottage neighbours who have objected to the kitchens, said: "The use has an unacceptable impact on the amenity and highway safety of local residents due to the unsuitability of the site for a business of [Deliveroo's] nature.
"There are no material considerations that outweigh this breach."
On Tuesday, Morag Ellis QC, representing Camden Council, said it had withdrawn its opposition to the Deliveroo kitchens as it believed enough mitigation had been offered by the company.
During the inquiry Deliveroo offered to set up a community working group to help monitor usage of the site, and after negotiation said it would respond to complaints within 20 working days.
Finishing his submission on Thursday afternoon, Deliveroo's lawyer Simon Bird QC conceded there was "evidence of some continued poor rider behaviour and that further improvements in the operation of the site are required."
Deliveroo has recently changed its terms for riders in Swiss Cottage, saying only those on foot, cycling or on an e-scooter can collect deliveries.
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But Edie Raff, who gave evidence to the inquiry, said the measures were not good enough as they meant riders were now spending longer on site, talking and shouting closer to homes in Dobson Close that have previously complained about noise.
She raised concerns about residents having to "police" the area because of a lack of marshals and the time Deliveroo would have to take to respond to complaints.
Addressing odour concerns, Mr Bird said the kitchens have an air control system that achieves a "high level" of filtration according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). He added that Deliveroo had looked at other sites in Camden but had been unable to find an alternative.
Deliveroo is hoping Ms Lewis will grant it full or temporary planning permission to carry on with the operation in Finchley Road.
But Ms Drabkin-Reiter said she "strongly disputes" a need for even temporary planning permission and said there had been a "20-month trial period where all of the measures relied on have [...] been in place," since it opened.
"The effectiveness of a community working group has already been tested - residents had four meetings over seven months. Problems persisted nonetheless," she said.
Ms Raff, who lives in Cresta House which overlooks the kitchens, said afterwards: "If the local community ends up losing its one-and-a-half year battle against Deliveroo, and it is given permission to stay in Swiss Cottage, I suggest it will be because Camden officers switched sides at the 11th hour, just a few weeks before the appeal. Instead of supporting local residents at the appeal, [Camden] has supported Deliveroo in its case for remaining.
"The consequence if residents lose is dire not only for the community but for people throughout the UK. If Deliveroo can win on a site that is so demonstrably inappropriate in the heart of a residential community and certainly not on an 'industrial site' then there is no hope for the rest of London."
A result is expected in the next six weeks.