Street fighting, drunks vomiting over the pavement, pickpockets and prostitutes — it’s another busy night in Knightsbridge.
Now, to the consternation of local residents, the upmarket department store Harvey Nichols has applied to extend its “nightclub” licence. The store already has a popular fifth floor bar and restaurant. It has asked to increase the capacity of its bar from 100 to 150 people and to keep its restaurant open until 3am every day except Sundays. It currently closes at midnight.
However, a Kensington and Chelsea council licensing committee report on late-night licences warns: “There have been constant problems for locals as revellers vomit and urinate on their doorsteps. Longer opening hours will exacerbate these problems.”
Knightsbridge residents may live in some of the most expensive homes in the world: an average two-bedroom flat in the area costs £2.67 million according to a recent study by estate agents Wetherell, but the objectors claim the area is turning into a veritable Sodom and Gomorrah plagued by criminals and drunks and where women cannot walk the streets in safety.
A report on the plan is currently being considered by Kensington and Chelsea council’s licensing committee and lays out in stark terms the residents’ fears:
“There have been constant problems for locals as revellers vomit and urinate on their doorsteps,” it reads. “Discarded syringes, used condoms and litter are also left on residents’ doorsteps. Longer opening hours will exacerbate these problems.”
The objectors claim late night venues in the area already attract a multitude of undesirables, from beggars, pickpockets and prostitutes to noisy pedi-cab drivers and street-fighting drunks. “Lone women can be a particular target for intimidation, harassment and abusive language,” continues the report.
Residents also claim the noise of people leaving the venue will interrupt their sleep, and frighten their children. Carol Seymour-Newton, vice chair of the Knightsbridge Association, which is among the objectors, says: “Knightsbridge is becoming very much a late-night destination and it is worrying.
“We have already got all these boy racers thundering around in their Ferraris and it means that people cannot sleep at night. There are more and more applications for this sort of thing and it is very worrying. When people have been out enjoying themselves they get louder and louder; they will leave the premises shrieking with laughter and that is a problem for residents.”
No one from Harvey Nichols was available for comment.