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Working from home residents object to Czech bar’s licence plan

Licensers must rule on garden capacity and drinking hours

27 May, 2021 — By Richard Osley

The bar in West End Lane [Ewan Munro]

IT is the off-the-track choice for those who consider themselves “in the know”, a hidden away restaurant and bar in West Hampstead where the pilsner flows happily.

But Bohemia House – often known locally as simply the “Czech Bar” – is facing a fight to extend the hours it can keep its garden open and increase the number of the people who can use it.

Tonight (Thursday), licensers will have to make a call on its application with neighbours fearing they will suffer late-night noise but supporters insisting that they have never seen any rowdy behaviour inside.

In a bulging postbag, Camden has even received a message of support for the bar in West End Lane from the Czech Republic’s embassy in London.

Deputy ambassador Ales Opatrny said he endorsed the licence request, adding: “It is the only Czech restaurant in London and it is important and historical centre in the life of the Czech community.”

It was previously called the Czech National House and was originally bought during the Second World War for people who had escaped the Nazis, including airmen who later flew with the RAF.

Over the years, it has been a meeting place for Czechs and Slovak groups, but is also open to customers from all backgrounds.

Camden has been asked to allow it to open at noon and keep its garden open until 10pm with a capacity of 60 – double its current allowance.

Residents in nearby Compayne Gardens and Clyne Road, however, are urging councillors to refuse the application when it is considered this evening

. Some said that the prospect had become unattractive with more people working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, while others said young children would be disturbed later in the evening.

“As experienced by all residents, the longer people have been drinking, the rowdier they get,” said one of the objections.

“With everyone working from home, having the premises open from 12pm on a daily basis will create disturbances that were never part of life in this part of West Hampstead.”

Another added: “While we are sympathetic to hospitality businesses trying to recover their income after Covid, we too are working individuals who have jobs to do, and in some cases, businesses to run from home.

“Many employers have made it clear that people will be expected to work from home for the rest of 2021. As such, the peace and quiet must be maintained.”

Fans of the bar, however, have also sent in messages, insisting that there is no history of trouble and that having the outdoor space would mean less complications with social distancing indoors.

“It is a real gem of West Hampstead,” said one of the supportive messages. “Any measures that can enable this wonderful place to recoup the enormous losses of the pandemic can only be a good thing for the community and this business.”

In a letter to residents, the club’s trustees said that drunken customers would not be served and there would be no loud music.

Camden’s licensing team reported that it had received no complaints about the venue in the past two years, but recommended conditions to protect neighbours – including a dispersal policy for customers.

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