An upmarket Islington workspace has come in for heavy criticism from its neighbours for being a late-night nuisance.
Uncommon, a co-working space in Horsell Road, was successful in its application to Islington’s 18 December licensing sub-committee to serve wine and beer to its members, and to expand its business to the weekend.
However, residents have complained of disrupted sleep, with deliveries arriving at the workspace at 3-4am, workers conducting their business, smoking and eating on their doorsteps, and concerns over light pollution from the premises.
Uncommon’s Head of Food & Beverage Alison Finch said: “The main business model is based around co-working and creating a community that encourages both collaborative and networking opportunities amongst our members.
“The opportunity for the cafe environment to offer a bottle of beer or wine for a team to enjoy together in our carefully-curated space will be an additional benefit to becoming a member of Uncommon.
“Our members will be able to show they are in a very well-designed and well-thought out office space, and bring in potential investors, fund managers or clients, and to present themselves and their business.
“Ultimately, we are a workspace, and have no intention of changing that mentality and creating an environment for heavy drinking.”
Letters of opposition to Uncommon’s move to become a licensed premises were received from 20 residents, supported by Cllr Sue Lukes (Lab, Highbury East), who voiced her disappointment with the decision to grant the licence after the meeting, stating that residents had had a “really rough time of it”.
Cllr Lukes said: “It looks as though what’s happened is here is that the owners of this space want to maximise the profit they’re going to get out of it, so it’s not good enough to rent out desk space and have a cafe, they want to use it at wekends when it’s largely empty. That isn’t compatible with a building on a quiet residential street.
“The space is already poorly managed, with all sorts of problems, and there’s a been a consistent refusal to engage with residents. It’s not being dealt with in a neighbourly way at all.
“So far, the record of Uncommon has been to say, ‘Oh, yes, we’ll have to stop that’, and then don’t do it, and that’s been consistent for two years.”
Professor Nick Franks, speaking on behalf of residents on Horsell Road, added: “Our windows are twelve paces from where this licence will be held. We have had two years of engagement with the management, because they have caused numerous problems.
“[Uncommon] falls way short of the standards of management necessary for a large licensed establishment. It’s a quiet residential street, or at least it was.
“We approve hugely of a flexible working space, but it nonetheless has caused us huge problems.
“Saturday and Sunday is the only time we have any respite from this building, and we face our precious weekends being destroyed by a licensed operation.
“I deal with the effects of sleep deprivation on mental illness, and I can tell you that several of the residents are certainly suffering from it.”