Westminster to tackle "swarms" of restaurant delivery drivers with new planning laws

Catherine Neilan
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"We can’t allow the city to be swarmed with delivery drivers. (Source: Getty)

Westminster City Council is putting forward new rules to prevent the borough being "swarmed" with food delivery drivers waiting outside restaurants.

Eateries using delivery services Deliveroo and Uber Eats will be forced to apply for planning permission under the rules, which are being introduced as part of the London council's new City Plan, if deliveries become the bulk of their trade.

It follows Westminster's recent successful action against a Westbourne Grove branch of Nando's, where 25 complaints were received about "large groups of moped delivery drivers gathering and waiting for orders".

Council officers observed "large numbers of mopeds parking inappropriately, making noise and causing congestion outside the chicken restaurant", before eventually issuing a notice for the Nando’s to stop providing deliveries.

Under new rules, restaurants will have to apply for planning permission for the change of use and demonstrate that they minimise disruption in local neighbourhoods. They may face formal enforcement action if they flout the new rules.

Westminster's cabinet member for planning and public realm cllr Daniel Astaire said: “We have nearly 3,000 restaurants in Westminster and the council needs policies to keep up with new technology, ensuring that areas can cope with the increased demand for food deliveries. Left unchecked this will create traffic chaos.

“These apps provide a fantastic service and we understand that for every delivery driver there is a customer. It is a popular, much needed service but we can’t allow the city to be swarmed with delivery drivers.

“We already make effective use of our planning powers. Having a policy will strengthen our hand in managing the flow of deliveries in the city, tackling noise disturbances and anti-social behaviour.”

The move comes as Deliveroo faces action over the rise of the "Roobox" - temporary kitchen pods on car parks and industrial estates in which chefs are making takeaway food for hip restaurants such as MEATLiquor, Busaba Eathai and Notting Hill’s Cocotte.

Also known as Deliveroo Editions, these kitchens have emerged in London districts including Camberwell, Dulwich, Canary Wharf, Battersea, to help meet demand for takeaways in areas where those restaurants do not exist.

However, London councils have accused the meal delivery company of bypassing planning rules and residents complain of excessive noise.

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