Council Ruling Places Future of Sam's Riverside in Jeopardy

Restaurant forced to take terrace marquee down after neighbours complain

Sam Harrison on the terrace after the removal of the marquee
Sam Harrison on the terrace after the removal of the marquee

December 12, 2022

Sam Harrison, the owner of Sam’s Riverside restaurant in Hammersmith, says a recent council ruling has placed the future of his business in doubt.

Some local residents, unhappy about noise from terrace which seats 32 outside the establishment, petitioned Hammersmith & Fulham Council to have the marquee removed.

Having earlier given permission for it since the start of lockdown, the council has now ordered its removal. It justified its decision by saying that the marquee was "unacceptable in the interests of visual amenity" and "constitutes an unneighbourly form of development". Noise and light pollution were also cited as reasons to require the structure to be taken down.

Mr Harrison says he has attempted to speak to local councillors and his MP, Andy Slaughter about the issue, but they have been unwilling to meet with him.

Recently mentioned by Hardens as one of London’s top ten favourite restaurants, trading conditions have nevertheless been tough for Sam’s Riverside like everyone else in the hospitality industry. The decision has been an unwelcome setback on top of the toxic mix of covid recovery, soaring inflation and huge energy price rises.

The marquee was taken down on Wednesday 23 November having previously provided cover for hundreds of diners every week. Now the restaurant has been forced to cancel winter bookings which, it is claimed, has resulted in the loss of thousands of pounds of revenue and a number of redundancies.

Sam Harrison said, “Very sadly due to a small number of residents who live directly above us (many of whom spend a large amount of the year living abroad), we have been forced to take the marquee that covers our terrace down. We feel very let down by the local council, especially at this time when restaurants are fighting for their survival and jobs are on the line. Due to this decision, we will be forced to let some staff go and our own chances of surviving the winter are greatly reduced. How can this be right with the current cost of living crisis? Our terrace is only open until 10 pm. It breaks my heart and I don’t actually know what to say to my team. ”

The space is often used for Sunday lunches and would have hosted Christmas parties giving a welcome boost to the restaurant’s income. These have now had to be cancelled leaving some staff in tears over what has happened.

The council has accused Mr Harrison of running a media campaign to get the judgement reversed and says that it was unable to give permanent permission for the structure because the applicaiton failed to meet planning criteria. It adds that it was willing to meet to discuss a temporary use of the marquee over the Christmas period but says that Mr Harrison was only willing to discuss a permanent soltion.

In a statement the council said, "During the planning application process, in mid-November the planning team contacted the planning consultants representing Sam’s Riverside to discuss where their draft proposals were outside of the strict planning regulations that relate to that sensitive riverfront site and suggested they consider a different way forward. However, the planning consultants asked for the application to be decided as it stood and without any changes being made to it. It was therefore also not right for Mr Harrison to tweet on 29 November that Sam’s Riverside has 'been unable to get a response from anyone at H&F'. This is an allegation Mr Harrison has since repeated.

"We are dismayed there has been so much misrepresentation about this case. While Hammersmith & Fulham is very sympathetic to the challenges faced by Sam’s Riverside, we cannot breach planning regulations because he has chosen to run a media campaign."

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