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Bill Oddie and Dame Janet Suzman fight Keats House booze bid

'Mind you, if he were in charge, he and his mates would have probably turned it into an opium den'

09 September, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Bill Oddie: Keats House should be a stylish memorial

BIRDWATCHER and broadcaster Bill Oddie is among objectors to Keats House, the museum in the former Hampstead home of Romantic poet John Keats, securing a new alcohol licence.

Councillors are due to decide on Thursday evening whether the venue can serve alcohol between 10 am to 10.00pm each day.

The application has led to objections from neighbours who say the peace and quiet in Keats Grove and surrounding streets will be shattered by events attended by up to 200 people.


John Keats

Mr Oddie, who lives nearby, said in an email to the Town Hall: “It seems that sooner or later every attractive venue applies for a liquor or music licence no matter how incongruous and inappropriate it is.”

He added: “As a resident of this area for over 30 years, I ask you to reconsider this proposal and support the notion of Keats House as a stylish historic memorial to The Poet himself.”

The 78-year-old, who was one of The Goodies, later joked: “Mind you, if he were in charge, he and his mates would have probably turned it into an opium den.”

Dame Janet Suzman, the Oscar-nominated actress who lives in Hampstead, has also filed an objection, describing the request as “obviously a bad joke”.

Dame Janet Suzman: This application is a bad joke 

She said: “Why not go to a pub if they must drink alcohol into the night? Or the cinema if they want to see films? What kind of films, that they must come here to see them? And delivery vehicles for this garden of delight? Pollution increase.”

Her written objection added: “By 10pm I am in bed and eager for quiet, not the noise of 200 chattering guests or loud music. This application is so spectacularly anti-social as to grossly insult the entire peaceful neighbourhood if passed.”

More than 35 other residents living close to Keats House have written similar objections about noise, disruption, parking problems and pollution from delivery vans.

Many said the famous tranquility of the property, as a place to escape the hustle and bustle of London, was at risk, while concern was raised over the peace in the Keats Community Library, which has survived due to the work of volunteers.

In its application, Keats House said staff “will be trained in asking customers to use the premises in an orderly and respectful manner and in preventing the consumption of alcohol outside of the terms of our licence.”

The attendance will be capped at 200 and “prominent, clear and legible notices will be displayed at the premises, requesting the public to respect the needs of nearby residents and to leave the premises and the area quietly,” the application said, adding: “Deliveries of goods necessary for the operation of the business will be carried out at such a time or in such a manner as to prevent nuisance and disturbance to nearby residents.”


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