Troxy music venue, Tower Hamlets. Credit Google Street View
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Council rejects Troxy’s application to increase capacity by 500 people

Tower Hamlets council has rejected Troxy’s application to increase its capacity from 3,100 to 3,600 and open for an extra two hours each day.

Troxy, a Grade II listed Art Deco building on Commercial Road, Stepney, is currently open until midnight from Sunday to Thursday and until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. Under the proposed licence, it sought to open until 2am Sunday to Thursday and until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays. 

The venue’s current licence has a limit on the number of days per year it can stay open until 2am from Sunday to Thursday and 4am on Fridays and Saturdays.

For 12 occasions per year, Troxy also wanted to stay open until 6 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and extend its capacity by an extra 500 people. However, the plans upset many residents living nearby, who claimed they were already kept up at night by some revellers leaving the venue loudly and hanging around outside their homes.

Troxy’s director, Tom Sutton-Roberts, told Tower Hamlets Council’s licensing subcommittee that the venue had been a hugely important part of Stepney ever since it first opened as a cinema in 1933. Mr Sutton-Roberts said the venue was once the UK’s largest cinema and has undergone several transformations, including being a training school for the London Opera Centre and a bingo hall.

He said: ‘We are not just a music venue, we are a critical space for everyone. In the past year alone, 125 music venues closed permanently in the UK, and less than 60per cent of those left have reported being financially stable; therefore, Troxy’s importance within the sector has heightened.’

He added: ‘That being said we don’t take every event we get offered, we are incredibly selective about the type of events we host and consider the impact on the local community and our steadfast commitment to the four licensing objectives.’ Residents who were against the new licence being granted then had their chance to speak.

One resident said: ‘I have worked in this area for 20 years as a licensee and where Troxy is located, it’s not Soho; it’s a residential area on both sides of the building. On the events day, all of the crowds block our pavements and children and elderly people can’t walk through the pavement because people are drinking and throwing litter.’

Another furious resident who lives right next to Troxy, said: ‘…on event days you can hear my walls shaking, people can’t even open the window because of the sounds of people and music, that’s how loud they are. I welcome any member of the community to come round [to my home] for one night, and they’ll understand [what it’s like].’

Bill Donne, a licensing consultant who was representing Troxy, said the venue had changed the way door supervisors and security are deployed during events to help with people queuing. Mr Donne said: ‘The queues start during the day and in the afternoon and once the doors open at 6pm or 7.30pm then those people from the streets are gone. I don’t think there’s an issue with the club nights that close at 2am or 3am in the morning because most of those customers disperse off of Commercial Road.’

A video was then played to the sub-committee, which showed hundreds of people queuing on several different streets as they waited to get into the venue. The sub-committee also viewed a video of a member of the public urinating in the street however, this was shown in private. As the sub-committee asked both the residents and Troxy to sum up their closing arguments, Mr Dunne made the point that neither Environmental Health nor the Met Police had made any representations against the latest plans.

However, the residents pleaded with the sub-committee not to grant the licence. The sub-committee made their decision in private, and it was published on the council’s website a few days later. The sub-committee chose to reject the licence application because they were concerned about the idea of 3,600 people leaving the venue late at night or during the early hours of the morning.

They also said Troxy’s application didn’t consider the likely impact of large numbers of people leaving the venue on a more regular basis than they currently do. As the proposed licence was rejected and this wasn’t a variation in the premise licence or a venue the council was reviewing, Troxy will continue to operate under the current licence.

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