Neighbours urge Town Hall to stop Deliveroo ‘dark kitchen’

Noise and smell problems for residents but officers operation can be made permanent

Friday, 18th March — By Tom Foot

Deliveroo Marshal stops traffic to excort riders across the A41

Deliveroo riders in Swiss Cottage

ALL residents’ associations and community groups in Swiss Cottage and South Hampstead have signed a joint objection against an application to make a “dark kitchen” operation permanent.

Food delivery giants Deliveroo have enjoyed temporary permission to hire 11 kitchens out to restaurants from a site near Dobson Close for more than two-and-a-half years under two consecutive “trials” approved by the council.

The “dark kitchen” system has proved popular with businesses who can save money by sending out orders from small units on the site, bypassing the need for expensive high street rents.

Electric bike riders collect orders booked through the Deliveroo app and run up a small ramp opposite the Odeon in Finchley Road.

But objectors say they are regularly breaking highway rules and putting residents and others drivers at risk with chaotic behaviour, while residents also face all-night cooking smells.

Edie Raff, who lives nearby, has submitted the 140-page objection signed by the groups.

She said: “We put a lot of work into this as we wanted to make it so it would be preposterous for them to approve it. The smells are just vile. It’s not just one thing or the other, it’s a mush of horrible smells that wash over us for the five months.”

The kitchens are used by an array of well-known businesses including Honest Burger and Ahi Poke. To reject the permanent scheme, councillors would have to ignore their own officials who have recommended that the request is granted.

The signatories include the Combined Residents’ Associations of South Hampstead, Hilgrove TRA, Centre Heights Residents’ Association, Winchester Road Residents’ Association, the director fo Visage apartments, and three Swiss Cottage councillors, among others.

The groups are hoping they will be heard at next month’s planning meeting before the May elections, in which the new South Hampstead ward is a hotly contested ward.

The mass objection says Deliveroo riders “habitually run red lights at the Swiss Cottage pub corner at the southbound Fitzjohn’s and Avenue Road lights by Eton Avenue and at the northbound Finchley Road traffic lights in front of Barclays Bank”.

Dozens of photos attached to the objection show riders cycling the wrong way down Finchley Road and riding on the pavement. It urged the council: “We are not asking the council to close down Deliveroo editions. We are asking only that you order them to vacate the Swiss Cottage site.

“They are free of course to move on to a site that is suitable for their operation.”

Police have said a moped crash outside the Odeon cinema on March 11 was not connected to the Deliveroo set-up. The company’s application says: “At a time when restaurant businesses have been particularly hard hit due to the Covid-19 restrictions, Editions is appealing to restaurants as it gives them the chance to launch, expand and test new innovations at minimal cost, creating in excess of 1,000 restaurant jobs across the UK.”

It said its filtration system had been found to be “effective at reducing cooking smells … with no odours from the site being discernible from any assessment point outside the boundary of the site”, adding: “It has been demonstrated through the conclusions of the noise, transport and odour reports that the site runs efficiently in line with the OMP [Operational Management Plan] and that a permanent planning permission should be granted accordingly.”

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