‘Half-baked’ – verdict on plan for new mega Greggs in square

Friday, 5th August — By Tom Foot

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Councillors reject application to sell late-night food from flagship store

A WEST End mega Greggs has been banned from selling late-night sausage rolls with council chiefs arguing its plans were “half-baked”.

Licensing councillors have rejected an application for Greggs to sell hot food late from a flagship new store in Leicester Square.

Greggs had wanted to sell late-night food and drink from 11pm to 5am and keep the new bakery outlet open at all times.

Westminster City Council’s cabinet member for communities and public protection Aicha Less said: “We’re as excited as anybody about the arrival of Greggs in Leicester Square and I’m sure people across the West End will flock to get themselves a sausage roll, steak-bake or jam doughnut.

“However, legitimate concerns have been raised by the police and local people that these plans are half-baked. There are worries that businesses serving 24/7 in the city centre creates challenges and that the bakery could become a hot spot for late night disturbances and anti-social behaviour.”

The Metropolitan Police Service had objected to the plans.

Aicha Less

In a letter to the council, a representative said: “It is our belief that if granted, the application could undermine the licensing objectives in relation to the prevention of crime and disorder.”

A police officer read out a statement to the licensing meeting saying that the late-night venue would “attract large groups of customers who have been consuming alcohol in pub bars and clubs some distance away. As it stands today the police have difficulties dealing with Leicester Square.”

He said the “no seating” feature of the Greggs outlet would lead to more anti-social behaviour in the square.

The Extra reported last week how sausage roll critics had urged licensing chiefs to set a better example in the West End, given the obesity crisis.

Cllr Less said: “If Greggs can serve a full menu until a certain hour, but at that point you can only have a doughnut, that could be a flashpoint.”

Greggs had said it had managed round-the-clock operations in other city centres successfully, including in Newcastle. Uniformed guards with body-worn cameras would be working through the night and there would be an alarm system and “panic facility”.

A lawyer for Greggs told the councillors there was no evidence customers accessing hot food would cause problems or that dangerous queues would build up, adding: “My final killer point is that if all these positive contentions transpired to be misguided, the licensing authority could immediately put this under review and take it away. That’s the way to go.”

Council officers had recommended the application for 11pm-5am sales be approved, but the elected members rejected it.

The licensing committee chair Cllr Aziz Toki told the meeting the councillors had been swayed by “strong representations” from the police and that the applicant had “failed” to address the needs in a “cumulative impact zone”.

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