KEN LEE, our Town Hall correspondent, has found some interesting documents on the council’s planning siteWithin nine months of opening, and Boxpark has been applying to Croydon Council to drop some of the conditions linked to its planning permission so that it can stay open until one o’clock in the morning selling booze.
Boozepark, next to East Croydon Station, opened at the end of October last year. Built out of disused shipping containers, it is a giant shed which houses more than 30 different food and drink outlets, plus the business’s own Boxbar. Hundreds of customers filter through Boozepark each day, where they can sit in their overcoats at garden tables, eating from cardboard boxes and drinking from plastic beakers, being “waited on” by contract cleaners in hi-viz jackets.
It is based on a similar scheme in Shoreditch. Roger Wade, the chief executive of Boxpark, got use of the site in Croydon at a peppercorn rent and was lured to the borough with a £3million loan from Croydon Council, thanks to recommendations from the department then run by Jo Negrini, now the council’s CEO.
Boxpark has staged a series of music events, some more successful than others, and many which have proved popular with Negrini and some among the council’s leadership, who have frequently received modest amounts of hospitality at the venue.
The building’s open-ended design has caused some late-night noise disturbance for residents in flats in nearby Ruskin Square, and even across the railway tracks in Addiscombe.Until now, however, the venue has closed at 11pm most evenings, as per its planning consent.
But in July, two applications were filed to the council’s planning department for Boxpark, on behalf of Wade.
These were submitted by Ian Coomber, from Croydon’s major estate management firm, Stiles Harold Williams. According to the question on the proforma planning sheet, “Has assistance or prior advice been sought from the local authority about this application?”, the answer given was “Yes”, naming Richard Freeman as the planning officer involved.
The application, which is yet to be considered, is seeking to drop Condition 9 and Condition 13 of the planning permission granted to Boxpark in 2015. But the planning register, which is a public-access area, fails to disclose what these conditions are, and nor is the original planning document readily searchable on the council-run site.
However, a senior source on the sixth floor at Fisher’s Folly has revealed to Inside Croydon that Boozepark wants to remove planning conditions which limit the opening hours of its own bar, Boxbar.
According to the trading conditions Boxpark provides to its tenant traders, they must cease selling alcohol by 10.30pm; Boxbar thus gets to monopolise Croydon’s thirsty customers until 11pm.
The original conditions restricted the hours of operation to 7am to 11pm Monday to Saturday, and between 8am and 10pm on Sundays.
If the planning conditions are dropped, and the council’s licensing committee agrees, Boozepark wants to go further and allow its own bar to stay open until 1am for three nights every week, and four when there’s a Bank Holiday Monday. Trebles all round!
According to our council insider, this now looks set to be revised as follows:
“The part of the premises known as ‘Boxbar’ (units 22-26) shall only be used between the hours of:
- between 0700 hours and 2300 hours on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays
- between 0700 hours Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 0100 the next day
- between 0800 hours and 2200 hours on Sundays except for Sundays preceding a bank holiday where the premises will remain open until 0100 the next day.”
A Katharine Street source said, “Boxpark was given huge incentives out of public money to come to Croydon.
“Now Wade and his company appear to expect to be handed a competitive advantage over other outlets within the complex by being able to sell alcohol for more than two hours longer than other Boxpark traders on the busiest nights of the week.
“Yet little has been done by the council to consult the hundreds of residents and other businesses in the area who might be affected.
“I even wonder whether the police have been advised.
“I supposed this will be dressed up by the council’s spin doctors as something that is ‘delivering for Croydon’, when in fact it’s delivering for one particular business.”
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