‘Progress’ on Duke of Edinburgh ahead of licensing hearing

Duke of Edinburgh Ferndale Road

“Significant progress” has been made in the dispute over a licence application by the Duke of Edinburgh pub on Ferndale Road, according to licence holder Stevie Mulgrave.

However some local residents still have a large list of objections to its licence.

The dispute has seen local residents arguing passionately for and against the pub and the use of its huge garden, and a specialist licensing barrister appearing for its owners at a meeting of Lambeth council’s licensing sub-committee in October.

Mulgrave said that, after negotiations, council licensing manager Bina Patel had agreed an operating schedule for the pub.

However, one of the major issues for both sides – the number of customers to be allowed in the garden which backs on to several houses – is not settled and will be discussed at a meeting of the sub-committee tomorrow (28 November) starting at 6.30pm in the town hall.

Uncertainty about the position of London Fire Brigade (LFB), which had at first suggested a safe capacity for the garden of 100, was resolved late today when it agreed to a much higher figure.

The owners of the pub, Solitaire Restaurants Ltd, had commissioned two fire safety experts to assess the safe capacity of the garden – the second after a note from the LFB received shortly before the last sub-committee meeting in October, saying the safe capacity of the garden should. be 100.

The first expert fire consultant employed by the pub owners had said a safe capacity for its garden would be 721.

The second report by consultant Guy Foster, a former head of the LFB’s investigations and engineering team, supported this figure.

Another expert, Dr Keith Still, professor of crowd science at Manchester Metropolitan University, who the pub says is a world-leading expert on crowd management, also supported the figure of 721.

In another last-minute message, LFB today confirmed that it would now agree that a fire safe figure of 721 is appropriate for the garden area.

The pub has strongly disputed the 100 figure on several grounds, not least that setting a capacity for the garden is not a decision for the sub-committee.

It says that 550 is the minimum figure that would allow it to trade successfully and has warned that, if the objectors to its licence are successful, the pub may well become another Brixton landmark housing “luxury” flats.

Mulgrave says in a statement to the sub-committee that the pub will accept a figure of 550 as “a sensible and proportionate compromise”.

He said that at a November meeting with local residents and councillor Josh Lindsey, residents were “largely happy” with operating schedule.

However, the group of residents opposing the licence are still objecting strongly to the use of tents or marquees in the garden; the use of TV screens in the garden; the proposed operating hours; arrangements for queuing outside people’s homes; and the capacity figure.

They say that the pub attracts anti-social behaviour outside their homes.

One of their suggestions is that the pub should “look at its operating model” and charge customers an entry fee to the garden.

They say that the licence application is for a pub and not for a garden or an event space “which it appears the pub are trying to obtain”.

Story edited at 15.55 to accommodate new LFB message