A court appeal by Greggs will see the bakery chain challenge a London council’s decision to refuse it a licence to sell hot food 24 hours a day.

Greggs opened its flagship Leicester Square store on 18 July and operates 24 hours a day selling pastries and sausage rolls, which are not considered 'hot food'.

The Newcastle-based company cannot sell 'hot food' between the hours of 11pm and 5am (the 'terminal hour') without a premises licence under the Licensing Act 2003 on May 19 last year. 

Only a small offer of goods supplied by Greggs - including bacon sandwiches, chicken goujons and potato wedges - are classified as hot food, the application documents show. 

A Westminster City Council licensing sub-committee heard from Police Constable Thomas Stewart, appearing on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service, who said the force opposed the application on the grounds of preventing 'crime and disorder'.

PC Stewart said Leicester Square 'had several late-night eateries in the locality and was a focal point for late night revellers'.

He advised that: 'An increase in premises which offered late night refreshment in the vicinity would only compound the issues already experienced in the locality.' 

Sarah Clover, counsel for Greggs Plc said there would be benefits if the application were agreed, such as the chain providing surveillance, security, and litter control. 

She said: 'This offer had been tested at other branches and did not cause any of the concerns which had been raised. The later hours would largely attract a certain demographic which would include shift workers and staff from the emergency services.'

The sub-committee rejected the application, concluding that Greggs had not provided sufficient reasons as to why the granting of the application would promote the licensing objectives, in a published decision on 2 December last year.

It said: 'Because the applicant is so well known and the offers they will have to customers, there is the possibility that patrons leaving other licensed premises within the vicinity are likely to be attracted to the premises due to the hot food and hot drink offer available resulting in the area becoming further swamped with people.

'The Sub-Committee was disappointed the applicant was not prepared to reduce the terminal hour by way of compromise.'

Greggs is due to appeal the decision at Westminster Magistrates Court today.


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