Have your say on the establishment of a saturation zone policy in the Brick Lane area

This consultation is now closed.


Over the last decade, Brick Lane has developed into one of London’s major night time economies and it has the highest concentration of licensed premises in Tower Hamlets with more than 200 licensed premises. The continued development and increasing number of restaurants, late night takeaways, off licences and bars, has the potential to lead to public disorder and anti-social behaviour in the area. This would place a considerable strain on police resources and of other responsible authorities e.g. council, fire service and health services. It could also have a debilitating effect on the quality of life for the people that live, work and visit the area. In light of the current circumstances the council, police and the wider partnership would like to establish a saturation zone in the Brick Lane area.

The purpose of the policy is to maintain the current licensing position / status quo in the Brick Lane area. The saturation zone policy will not directly affect the current alcohol or late night refreshment licences in the area but it will play a very significant role in any future applications. It is important to note that this does not mean that further licences will not be granted, or that quotas will be introduced.

The council and police would like to know your view on a proposal to establish a saturation zone in the Brick Lane area.

What is a Saturation Zone?

Saturation zones were introduced through the Licensing Act in 2003, as a response to crime and disorder and nuisance problems arising from the cumulative effect of having a number of licensed premises operating in close proximity to each other in a small area. A saturation zone is only introduced where there is evidence to show that it is ‘appropriate and necessary’ to introduce a policy to control the growth of licensed premises.

Effect of a Saturation Zone

When a saturation zone policy is in place, instead of an applicant having an entitlement to a licence, unless there is a good reason not to grant it, they must first demonstrate that the grant of the application will not add to the existing problems. This is known as a ‘presumptive rebuttal’. Any application for a new premises licence or club certificate for alcohol sales, the provision of the sale of hot food after 11pm or for a variation to an existing licence within these categories, that is likely to add to the existing cumulative impact in the area, will normally be refused or become more difficult to obtain.

However, the applicant can rebut the presumption if they can demonstrate that their application for a new licence premises or a variation to an existing license would not undermine one of the licensing objectives i.e. the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm.

The policy applies to new applications only. There is still a requirement that one of the responsible authorities i.e. council, police or interested parties e.g. local residents’ or businesses make relevant representations to the local licensing authority on the potential cumulative impact. Therefore representations are still required in order for an application to be refused. Once this happens, the policy comes into effect. If no representation is received then it remains that a licence must be granted that is consistent with the terms of the operating schedule.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, said, “The establishment of a saturation zone policy would be an important step in tackling some of the anti-social behaviour issues that can arise from the late night economy in the Brick Lane area.  The council has worked very closely with the police and relevant authorities to develop the draft saturation zone policy.

“We are now asking the community, local businesses and organisations to tell us if you agree with this approach, by responding to the consultation and giving us your views.

“Implementation of the draft policy to establish a saturation zone in the Brick Lane area will be entirely dependent on the views we receive through this consultation.”

Cllr Ohid Ahmed, Deputy Mayor, said, “The council is committed to improving Brick Lane for those who visit, work and live in the area. A saturation zone policy will help towards creating a safer environment. It is important to note that the saturation zone policy does not mean a ban on alcohol licences in the area. However, it does allow the council to restrict further licences being issued in order to combat the late night problems around Brick Lane.

“I do encourage you to contribute your comments on this important issue and complete the survey. We look forward to hearing your views.”


This consultation is now closed. Thank you for taking part in the consultation.

A full report of the consultation findings will be made available on the council website.

If you have further questions or comments please contact Abu Sufian on 020 7364 1613 or email: Abu.Sufian@towerhamlets.gov.uk

March 23, 2013