It’s the debate gripping residents of one of London’s most exclusive addresses: should Belgrave Square be turned into a more popular destination for “common people” or does it “already often smell of cannabis and youngsters”?
Neighbours are divided over plans by a committee to host licensed events until 2am five times a year in the gated garden of the “billionaire square”, exclusive to key-holders except on Sundays. The plan is supported by the landowner, Grosvenor Estate, and there is an associated request to stage additional late-night cinema screenings, plays, concerts and dance shows.
Twenty-four of 63 letters sent to Westminster council back the idea but some neighbours fear their “little haven” would become an “outdoor club” up to 40 times a year. One said: “Events will do nothing to maintain the environment, rather they will pollute it.” Another raised concerns about drunkenness, adding: “The place already often smells of cannabis and youngsters.” A third said it would be a “travesty of justice” if the application were approved, fearing events could mushroom to the scale of Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland.
The application was made by the Belgrave Square Garden Events Committee, which represents garden users, with support from Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster’s property firm. It has said it wants open spaces on its estate to be made more welcoming to bring life to “lights-out” districts where people often live abroad for much of the year.
A resident who supports the initiative wrote: “It is high time that local councils take on board the opinion of ordinary people. Belgrave Square has to be a prime example, owned by a company who are actively trying to share an asset and make it available not just to the super — often snobby — rich. Belgrave Square is a wonderful asset and if it can be made into a destination for common people more often I will be delighted.” Others said the garden must be kept “alive and used”. One said the licence would allow “pillars of the local community to keep doing their fantastic work”.
The embassies of Spain, Germany, Norway and Austria are in the square, where one nine-bed house is on sale for £100 million. Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed is among property-owners.
Events company We Are The Fair, which is working as the agent, said open days and an annual barbecue had been held for many years without complaint. It added: “It is our intention this unblemished record should continue. While attendees at some events will be able to purchase alcohol we do not expect this to result in unsightly or socially unacceptable behaviour.”
The council will decide tomorrow morning. Its environmental health team and the Metropolitan Police have made representations.