Skip to content Skip to footer

Community engagement leads to success in Soho

Citizens Advice Westminster’s Licensing Advice Project recently worked with residents of Soho to defeat an application to turn a retail shop into a licensed premises with very late evening hours. Residents were understandably worried about the impact such a change would have on their quality of life in a neighbourhood of which they had long been part. CAW’s main client for this case reported that she was “incredibly concerned about how this will affect (her) child” who had recently been enrolled in a local nursery school in Soho, and whose husband had lived his entire life in the area. Saddened by the prospect of having to leave to protect their quality of life, the residents reached out to CAW’s Licensing Project for help.

CAW’s Licensing Project is an independent service that provides specialist advice to individual residents, businesses and residents’ groups who wish to comment on licence applications. In this case, the Licensing Project helped Soho residents put forward a compelling argument against the proposal to open a late night alcohol premises beneath a long-standing social housing unit and in proximity to many other residents. While it is often difficult to stop such applications in their entirety, this case demonstrated many compelling reasons to try to do so. Advice included emphasising that the property in question had long been a retail shop rather than a licensed premise, and that it was essential to  maintain the quality of life in an area of Soho that has long been residential. The involvement of many residents was key to the success of the effort. One of the Project’s clients, the Soho Society, leafleted residents widely to ensure that they were aware of the application and able to comment if they wished. This resulted in multiple objections to the proposal, which accurately reflected the community’s level of concern. CAW represented a number of objectors at the hearing, which was attended by multiple residents and representatives of local agencies who shared their concerns. This community approach had a high impact, convincing the Licensing Sub-Committee to refuse the application in its entirety, thereby protecting Soho’s cohesive residential community.