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Why is Olympia’s £1.3 billion redevelopment proving so controversial?

The wars over late-night licenses in London never seem to stop. 

Olympia London is due to get an enormous makeover, including a swish new theatre, massive music venue, and two hotels, over the next year. But some locals are worried that the £1.3 billion redevelopment scheme will attract too much late night drinking. Fun sponges!

In a bid to become less of a weird, liminal events space, and more of a bonafide destination, the Olympia London exhibition centre is getting two new hotels, which are due to open in 2025. New premises licences for the National and Emberton House hotels are going to be decided by Hammersmith and Fulham council next Wednesday. 

The hotels in the west London locaysh want to have 24-hour alcohol licences, so residents and ‘bona fide guests’ can have access to booze at any hour of the day. They have also proposed a booze licence from 7am until midnight for non-residents. 

However, some residents aren’t happy about the potential introduction of a new late-night spot. 

In documents filed ahead of next week’s licensing sub-committee meeting, one local wrote: ‘As a resident on one of the adjacent streets to the Olympia centre, I object to the opening of late entertainment venues that will incur noise, traffic and potential anti-social behaviour.

‘The proposed opening hours are too extended and will create disruption to the rest and sleep of residents from the people coming in and out of the venues, drivers and taxi services. None of the licensed venues should operate beyond 10pm, as per the nearby Westfield Shopping Centre.’

Another added: ‘I find [it] extremely inconsiderate that Olympia is applying for such antisocial hours when they should be well aware of the rights and needs of local residents.’

It seems like the curmudgeonly neighbours might have to just suck it up, because council officers noted in the documents that no major concerns were raised either by the local authority’s licensing team, or PC Kris Cardwell, the police’s licensing officer.

A spokesman for Olympia said: ‘The arrival of two hotels at Olympia is a real positive for west London. It echoes our strong vision for how we can support Olympia’s heritage of hosting events that have helped drive the economy and entertained visitors for the last 138 years.

‘It will be a huge boost to event organisers and their customers, as well as the visitors that we host. Both hotel operators are well-established and reputable and have experience managing hotels in residential areas and busy cities.’

London is officially the worst city for a night out in the UK.

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