Food delivery giant ordered to close Hove ‘dark kitchen’

The refurbished site used by Deliveroo Editions at Saxon Works, Hove, as shown in the company's planning application to the council
The refurbished site used by Deliveroo Editions at Saxon Works, Hove, as shown in the company's planning application to the council

Deliveroo has been told it must cease operations at its Hove takeaway kitchen by July.

Brighton and Hove City Council said the Deliveroo Editions kitchen which has been operating in Saxon Works, Hove, for almost a year, ‘is causing harm to the amenity of occupiers of nearby residential properties’.

Deliveroo Editions uses industrial units dubbed ‘dark kitchens’ to bring in chefs to cook takeaway food from chains such as Nandos, GBK, Carluccios, Pho and Chicken Shop.

The kitchens are not open to the public and are only used to prepare food for delivery.

A Deliveroo spokesman said: “Deliveroo Editions is an exciting innovation in the food industry that people love because it allows them to order great new food to their door. These new purpose built kitchens - that are just for delivery - are an excellent way for restaurant brands to grow in new areas without needing to open a whole new restaurant.

“As with many new innovations, we understand that some people may have questions about how it works. We have repeatedly been advised that the site in Hove has the right permission for Editions to operate, supported by decisions made by other councils where Editions have opened in their boroughs. We continue to want to work with the council to address any concerns they or residents may have.”

Deliveroo had submitted a retrospective planning application for the unit in August, believing it could operate under a B1 business class for offices and ‘light industry’.

But this week a council spokesperson said: “Deliveroo believed they could operate the premises under a B1 use class, but after research and consideration we made the judgement that this use class isn’t suitable for the activities being undertaken.

“The enforcement notice requires the cease of a food preparation and delivery (Sui Generis) use.

“The Local Planning Authority considers that the use is causing harm to the amenity of occupiers of nearby residential properties. They have until July to comply.

“The application for the ductwork and ventilation remains undetermined, on the basis that the application relates to a use which doesn’t have planning permission. The enforcement notice also requires their removal.

“They have until July 5 to comply. They could also lodge an appeal against the notice, although they haven’t yet.”

Concerns had been raised by Green councillors this week that the company could be set to expand a range of delivery-only ‘kitchen pods’ in Hove – although Deliveroo denies this.

This came after a pamphlet circulated by Deliveroo said its Editions concept was ‘increasing choice for residents, creating local jobs and bringing new opportunities to restaurants in your area’.

Raising concerns that Deliveroo Editions could be a ‘back door’ for takeaway chains in Hove, Cllr Phelim Mac Cafferty said: “I’m concerned that local restaurants may find themselves forced out by this uncompromising business model. This will see Deliveroo front the costs of setting up ‘delivery only’ takeaway kitchens while our smaller, independent ‘sit down’ restaurants will hardly be able to compete.

“Greens want to see companies like this properly regulated, rather than watch as they expand through the back door. We need to know more about Deliveroo’s existing operations in Hove and any council investigation in to whether this complied with local planning and licensing criteria. I invite Deliveroo to sit down now with local councillors and residents to answer our questions before any kitchens are set up in car parks, like they have done elsewhere.”

A Deliveroo spokesman said: “Deliveroo Editions has been operating in Brighton for almost a year now and during that time has helped expand customer choice in the city, supported the creation of local jobs and helped Brighton restaurants grow and expand. As part of our drive to better work with the local community we recently made 10 commitments to Brighton residents and councillors outlining how we would engage, listen to and support the local community. This included an annual community budget to support residents, measures to address traffic concerns and a commitment to hold regular community meetings.

“It is disappointing that these efforts to engage more with residents have been portrayed as a scare story about new Editions sites. Deliveroo has no plans to expand in Brighton beyond our existing site in the city and our sole aim was to improve our engagement with residents. We know Brighton has a vibrant diverse restaurant community and we are proud to bring residents amazing food from local restaurants, big and small. Restaurants who work with us see their revenue increase by up to 30 per cent which is why so many independent restaurants who have partnered with Deliveroo have been able to expand in the city and even across the UK. We will continue to engage directly with local residents and will always be straight about our future plans.”