Deliveroo ordered to pack up and leave Swiss Cottage

Councillors answer residents' calls despite legal threat from food giant

Friday, 8th April — By Tom Foot

deliveroo

Delivery riders crossing Finchley Road from the Deliveroo ramp 

PLANNING chiefs have ordered Deliveroo to pack up its “dark kitchens” and get out of Swiss Cottage. 

Councillors rejected an application to make the firm’s operation in Finchley Road permanent despite hardball legal threats from the company in the Town Hall last night (Thursday).

The application had been recommended for approval by Camden’s own council officers but the weight of opposition from residents groups persuaded elected representatives to overrule them.

The decision follows a long battle against Deliveroo which opened nine kitchens service on the site, close to the residential cul-de-sac in Dobson Close, without consultation in 2017.

Residents have been frustrated by cooking smells, noise and chaotic behaviour from delivery riders who pick up orders from a ramp opposite the Odeon cinema.

“We’re here at long last,” said Edie Raff, chair of Cresta House Residents Association.

“Residents have provided a mountain of evidence confirming Deliveroo has not complied. Cooking smells from nine kitchens continue to invade our homes, gardens and terraces. Riders run red lights, cycle the wrong ways on highway and spread out everywhere while they wait for orders. 

“Nothing has changed. The smells are still here. There has been no let up to the relentless comings and goings. Surely after more than four years on this assault on the neighbourhood, it’s time to put an end to all of it and tell Deliveroo to pack up.”

The Deliveroo Editions service works by offering established food companies kitchen space so they do not have to pay the costs of running a high street operation. Orders are taken through Deliveroo’s app, which are then delivered by riders on bicycles or electric mopeds.

The set-up first opened in 2017 without any consultation with residents or the council. Then a planning inspector in 2019 ruled a trial period should be imposed that would allow Deliveroo the chance to address concerns of residents.

A 142-page objection had been filed to the council that had been signed by all the resident groups in Swiss Cottage and South Hampstead.

Swiss Cottage ward Councillor Leo Cassarani said: “Deliveroo was given one last chance, and guess what? Nothing has changed.  

“We are not here to oppose delivery only kitchens in the abstract, as we have said from the beginning we are opposed to the building Deliveroo has chosen. This type of operation is unsuitable here and should be operated on an industrial site, as it is done in Regis Road.” 

Cllr Danny Beales, who sits on the planning committee, said: “I remember this right from the infancy from the first concerns about operating without permission.

“I must say I do think the attitude of the applicant is unhelpful. I think setting up operations without engaging with the planning process, without engaging with the community, is not the right place to start. It has led to bad feeling among residents, councillors and members of the committee.


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“That isn’t weighing into our decision, but it’s not helpful. The threats of appeal to end a deputation is not helpful, if there is a genuine desire to work together. I would caution you against that in future.”

David Ives, property director at Deliveroo, told the committee: “We are very proud of our editions kitchen on Finchley Road. We are pleased that it has once again been recommended by planning officers for approval.

“Since our Finchley Road site opened, we have listened carefully to concerns raised by the neighbours. We have transformed operations and made sure the site runs more considerately.” 

He said there was “clear and irrefutable evidence” its operations management plan was working, adding: “In the event of a refusal, Deliveroo will naturally have to defend its operation at this site and seek to defend the many jobs and livelihoods it supports in the borough, as well as the service it offers to the community.” 

Another planning committee councillor, Sue Vincent, said: “We are not in charge of cyclists’ behaviour. What we are missing here is the impact on character of the area. The surrounding area is residential. If this is acceptable, can any one of us have one of these next door to us? I think we would seriously find the intensity on this site is not acceptable when so many residents are living there.”

Councillor Anna Wright had said: “The test we set out has not been met. There has not been compliance.”

But her Labour colleague Councillor Peter Taheri had said: “We should think very carefully and seriously before saying no to a proposal that provides ten businesses and significant jobs and service benefit in the immediate area.” 

The meeting heard the Deliveroo Editions kitchen had brought in more than £14million in revenue and that several of the people working there live in Camden.

HOW THEY VOTED:
FOR (allowing Deliveroo to stay permanently): Councillors Peter Taheri, Marcus Boyland and Heather Johnson
AGAINST: Sue Vincent, Georgie Robertson, Anna Wright, Jenny Mulholland, Tom Simon, Sian Berry and Andrew Parkinson
ABSTAINED: Danny Beales and Adam Harrison.

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