Greenwich’s Cutty Sark pub faces curb on ‘anti-social’ riverside beer garden

Cutty Sark pub
There has been a pub on the Cutty Sark site for centuries

One of south-east London’s best-known pubs could face restrictions on its riverside beer garden because of complaints from neighbours.

Generations of drinkers have enjoyed the Thames-side terrace opposite the Cutty Sark in Ballast Quay, east Greenwich, which has traded since the 18th century.

Now it faces a licence review on Wednesday with the prospect of outdoor drinking being barred after 10pm because neighbours are angry about the noise from the terrace.

Peninsula ward councillor Chris Lloyd sought the review, saying that the beer garden was just six metres from neighbours’ windows.

“The noise generated directly affects the lives of the residents, with sound magnified by the nearby water,” he writes in the application for a review.

Cute Sark pub
Drinkers face a 10pm curfew on the riverside terrace

“The current time of 11pm Mondays to Saturdays and 10.30pm on Sundays, with pub noise frequently continuing well beyond this time, is anti-social and has a detrimental effect on residents’ quality of life and the enjoyment of their homes.

“[Residents would] like the committee to bring the licence into line with other pubs in residential areas, most of which have a clearance time of 10pm or earlier.

“Given that nearby pubs such as the Gipsy Moth, which has residential properties a similar distance away from their beer garden, have a 9pm clearance time for their outside space, it seems reasonable to bring the Cutty Sark into line.”

He adds that the neighbours are not seeking the cut the pub’s trading hours, and that Young’s, which bought the business in 2014, had failed to follow through on promises to improve staffing and has been “completely inflexible”.

The council says it has recorded 13 complaints about noise since January 2009, including three about noise from quiz nights, an outdoor refrigeration unit and one about “customers talking/laughing inside the premises”.

A warning letter from police sent after a visit on Friday 4 May reads: “We found your beer garden full to capacity and approximately 20 people spread across the foot path in front of your neighbouring premises. There was also several young children running around the area.

“There are clear safety concerns with people drinking in the street, not only is there a risk of people or animals hurting themselves on broken glass but as these patrons are not within your premises there is an increased chance that their alcohol consumption isn’t being monitored which could lead to an increase drunkenness and a greater risk of crime and disorder.

“The police feel that by allowing your patrons to drink alcohol on the public path, your premises is failing to promote all four of the licensing objectives; the prevention of crime and disorder, the protection of public safety, the protection of children from harm and the prevention of public nuisance.”

No time is given in the police letter for the visit.

Cutty Sark
Pub giant Young’s took over the venue, formerly a free house, in 2014

In its response to the review, Young’s told Greenwich Council that it did not believe closing the beer garden at 10pm was “the most effective way” to solve noise issues.

It said that because the pub itself closes at 11pm, “there is a natural closing down of both the outside area and inside the pub at the same time which encourages the dispersal of all customers from the pub and the area”.

“It would be much harder and would cause greater disturbance to artificially close the outside area before the pub itself,” the company said, proposing to deal with the issue with increased staffing.

While the Cutty Sark – which changed its name from the Union Tavern in 1951 – and its neighbouring houses are historic features of east Greenwich, they have been joined in the past two decades by new housing developments at Anchor Iron Wharf and Enderby Wharf.

Last month, Woolwich-based brewery Hop Stuff abandoned plans to open a Taproom bar at Lovell’s Wharf because neighbours successfully lobbied against giving it a licence for outdoor drinking.

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