Westminster City Council are to impose new rules on central London restaurants that use delivery apps such as Deliveroo and UberEATS. Restaurants that use deliveries as “more than an incidental service will have to apply for a change in planning permission and prove that they minimise disruption in local neighbourhoods.” According to the BBC, the policy will be included in the council's City Plan next spring.
The BBC report that “local cabinet member Daniel Astaire said the services will lead to ‘traffic chaos’ in London if left unchecked” — a statement, when considering UberEats and Deliveroo riders use push bikes and mopeds, that appears inconsistent with the disruption felt in Soho over the past two years as a result of the Crossrail development on Dean Street/Oxford Street and the significant reconstruction taking place in the area.
However, the BBC cite an example from Notting Hill where peri-peri chicken chain Nando’s has been the recipient of a number of delivery-associated residential noise and congestion complaints. They say the council “recently ordered a Nando's outlet to stop deliveries through the apps after it received more than 25 complaints about noise and congestion.”
A Nando’s spokesperson subsequently told the BBC, "Because of the location of the restaurant, at the junction of a busy residential road, this caused some disruption and the service was stopped at the request of Westminster Council."
Delivery, for a number of (especially fast casual) restaurants, is a comparatively new and potentially powerful revenue stream.
Asked how this ruling might affect business, a Soho-based restaurateur who asked to remain unnamed, said:
“There’s obviously some restaurants that do significant more trade through delivery that this is targeting — and can understand that from a noise and nuisance perspective how it would annoy local neighbours for sure...
“You have to really work hard with Deliveroo and Uber to make sure there’s an understanding of where they should wait and not blocking pathways etc. — you have to constantly communicate with the drivers and work with them in order for them to cause as little disruption as possible to the surrounding neighbourhood.
“I fear that Westminster Council will simply use these isolated incidents to slap a big planning expense across the board on all operators — some of which manage the situation well and don’t cause disturbance.”
About the proposed move, UberEATS said: "We'd welcome the opportunity to meet with Westminster City Council to discuss how we can work together to support local businesses and address any concerns they have."
Meanwhile, rather opaquely, a Deliveroo spokesperson said: “Deliveroo always works with communities and Local Authorities to ensure our service benefits restaurants, residents, riders and customers alike.”