IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Nag’s Head row: Does anybody know what has been decided?

Neighbours want a recording of key meeting but Islington does not tape them

26 February, 2021 — By Calum Fraser

How the new upper floor food hall could look

THE row over the redevelopment of Nag’s Head Market was descending into farce this week as residents said it was still not clear what had been agreed at a planning meeting more than two weeks ago.

Frantic emails have been exchanged back and forth between planning chiefs and objectors as attempts were made to establish what time the market will be able to stay open till after its food hall revamp.

Neighbours were sent notices this week that part of the market could stay open until 11pm, but residents said they were sure that the cut-off time was set at 8pm when councillors met on February 9.

They have now called for a recording of the meeting to be released but it was revealed this week that, while large numbers of local authorities across the UK record these sessions, Islington does not.

Many councils also publish either film footage or audio recordings of key meetings but the Town Hall does not follow suit.

In neighbouring Camden, all planning and licensing meetings can be watched online for months afterwards or archive DVDs can be ordered for even older ones.

Kevin Jordan, who has lived in Mayton Street for more than 20 years, told the Tribune: “This was a full planning committee. It’s big stuff, with people making big decisions, and then we potentially get a mistake in the written recorded decision and no one can check it. It’s a real and significant blight on local democracy.”

As the Tribune previously reported, councillors approved two applications by developers who plan to open a street food-style market in a newly constructed upper section of the market in Seven Sisters Road.

However, conditions were placed on the approval which put an 8pm closing time on the mezzanine floor to allay objectors’ fears that developers intend to turn the “Upper Place” into a late-night establishment.

Mr Jordan said: “Residents are deeply concerned about this. If the applicant is allowed to have an 11pm licence downstairs then they can use this as grounds to push for extended opening hours upstairs, despite the fact the committee explicitly restricted this.

“This is a fundamental issue and decision.

“It will probably fundamentally change the nature of the Nag’s Head area over time and the lives of local residents living around it.”

Another neighbour said: “I am not an expert in planning, nor am I a lawyer, but I am a mum and a human and I do know when I am being taken for a ride.”

A spokesman for the Nag’s Head said: “Our main concern is the intended close time for the Upper Place at 8pm. Having spoken to all our food traders upstairs, who rely on the public going out for an evening meal and probably do not leave their homes until 7pm, there is no time to reach the Upper Place, choose and order their food and wait for it to be served.”

He added: “We do not know any food business in London or any part of the UK, whether its a sit-down, takeaway or delivery who close at 8pm.

“We do recall that Boris Johnson stated the food businesses should stop serving at 10pm and leave by 10.30pm, which is far more reasonable.”

The Tribune contacted the council for comment on Wednesday morning, but a spokesperson said last night that they would not be able to provide a response in time.

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