By Owen Sheppard, local democracy reporter
Vegan food influencer Deliciously Ella has fended off residents’ complaints about rats to win permission to reopen her restaurant in the West End.
Ella Mills, 30, boasts two million Instagram followers and has published six cookery books.
She is also the great granddaughter of the late billionaire Lord Alan Sainsbury, whose family owned the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain.
Westminster Council’s licensing committee today (May 12) granted Ms Mills and husband Matthew Mills a new licence to serve alcohol until 10pm on weekdays from their restaurant in Weighhouse Street.
Their initial application to serve until 11.30pm and close at midnight had been objected to by Met Police licensing officers.
At the committee, Ms Mills said: “Deliciously Ella has been about promoting vegan food… that started with five best-selling cookery books before transitioning to a physical space that we have at Weighhouse Street.”
Mr Mills said: “We’re a family owned business. We have had the site in Weighhouse Street for four years and it has been a dream of ours to convert it into a restaurant.”
He added: “We love the area, we want to be the best local spot for people to come and visit.”
But 15 neighbours objected to their licence. They raised fears of noise disturbance from drunken guests, and accused the restaurant – which temporarily closed last year – of previously attracting rats.
One resident, Cornelius Bright, told the committee: “There are rodents that have been a problem for quite a long time. And the council had put in a rodent catcher… the rodents [were] attracted mainly by the dustbin area at Deliciously Ella, because they don’t have safe dustbins like we do in our courtyards which have a big closing lid on them.”
He also warned that if customers get drunk “Deliciously Ella will not be able to control them.”
Other residents complained that the character of the area would be “severely harmed” by Deliciously Ella becoming a “late night restaurant”.
Another wrote: “We have had problems with strangers coming into the garden for several years to sit and chat and sometimes to use as a toilet.”
Ms Mills’s lawyer, Alan Thomas, said rats had appeared in the area partly due to disturbance caused by works on Crossrail. He also said alcohol would likely only make up four per cent of the restaurant’s sales.
A Westminster Council officer also said there had been no issues about noise raised in the last two years that Deliciously Ella had operated.
Towards the end of the hearing, Mr Bright dropped his objection after he was read a series of conditions that Deliciously Ella will have to abide by.
These included: making sure patrons are quiet; that rubbish would have to be stored carefully and not left more than 30 minutes before collection times; that rubbish can’t be put out after 10pm, and to clear litter from outside the restaurant.
This is the only restaurant or cafe that Ms Mills will operate after her branches in Seymour Place and Herne Hill closed in 2018 after posting losses.
It will open when Covid restrictions are lifted later this month.
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