Hammersmith & FulhamNews

It’s all systems go as Fulham’s Riverside stand gets final licence approvals

By Ben Lynch, Local Democracy Reporter

Licences for a high-end hotel and members club have been approved as part of Fulham FC’s redevelopment of its Riverside stand.

Hammersmith and Fulham councillors yesterday waved through a total of seven applications, moving the Premier League club’s scheme a step closer to completion.

Concerns about late-night drinking and noise resulting from the proposed licences were raised during the two meetings, with a resident telling councillors there are ‘major questions’ as to the potential impact on public nuisance in the local area.

The £100 million redevelopment of the stand at Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage stadium has been in the pipeline since 2013, with construction starting in 2019 following the council approving planning permission.

To be completed over the course of the 2024/25 season, it will increase the stand’s capacity to roughly 8,000 spectators, and the total for the ground to around 28,500.

A number of bars, restaurants and conference spaces are also planned, plus amenities such as the hotel and the members club.

While the wider redevelopment had already been approved, councillors were yesterday deciding on seven premises licences associated with the scheme; the hotel, spa café, members club, and licences for four floors in the stand itself, to be operated for purposes including a restaurant and the Chairman’s Suite.

Objections filed prior to the meeting largely revolved around the suggested opening hours and times at which alcohol is to be served. The hotel, for example, is to operate 24/7, though alcohol sales would be restricted to residents and ‘bona fide guests’ on the premises.

Isobel Hill-Smith, chair of the Fulham Society and a resident, spoke against the majority of the applications, including the hotel and members club. She told the licensing sub-committee the hotel is close to a block of flats, and that “the noise of people enjoying alcohol would be broadcast, particularly because the river amplifies the sound”.

Craig Baylis, a solicitor at Keystone Law representing the club, said it is normal for hotels to have 24-hour licences, as it enables residents to drink from the minibar in their room whenever they please. He added there is no bar in the hotel or a restaurant, and will not be suitable for large groups, with just 13 rooms for guests.

On the members club, Mr Baylis said significant interest had already been received from locals, with it to operate as multi-use and to provide facilities including a crèche. “Of all the different operations, this one garnered a lot of interest.” he said. “People are already asking if they can sign up for membership.”

Across the seven applications, Ms Hill-Smith told councillors the primary objection was to the proposed ground floor licence. She said she feared booze would be taken ‘in large quantities’ to the river walk to the north of the stadium and Bishop’s Park to its south.

“This raises major questions of public nuisance and also the protection of children which are key considerations in the licensing application,” she said. “The public nuisance also includes the issue of litter.”

The stadium already has a licence which enables sales of alcohol to be taken off-site, he added, and that people can currently do the things Ms Hill-Smith is concerned about.

He said: “The reality is I can go to Sainsbury’s and buy a bottle of wine or four cans of beer and go and drink it in Bishop’s Park. I can take a beer from the local off-licence and walk along the riverside with it now.”

After hearing each of the applications in-turn, councillors resolved to approve all seven, albeit with a number of conditions attached. These included particular obligations regarding collecting litter, and that, for the ground floor licence, drinks in glass containers cannot be drunk outside.

Pictured top: The new Riverside stand will include a rooftop pool, forming part of the Sky Deck on the top three floors (Picture: riverside.fulhamfc.com.)

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