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Coffee and doughnut chain can open 24/7 at its Watford branch despite noise concerns

A Canadian coffee and doughnut chain can open 24/7 at its Hertfordshire branch following a council hearing.

A panel of three councillors agreed to grant Tim Hortons a late-night refreshments licence for its drive-through off Watford’s A41 at The Dome roundabout. A neighbour and a GP had objected to the multinational’s plan for all-day and all-night opening hours, which triggered a Watford Borough Council hearing in late November.

They feared additional opening hours would generate extra litter and noise as a result of honking horns, and light.

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Speaking at the hearing last month, Amrit Singh, Tim Hortons regional operations manager, told councillors: “This is something which we want for the Watford community and for the local staff.”

Mr Singh said 24-hour opening would provide food for people who work nights, plus employment for members of staff who live in the town.

He said “there is a process” at Watford’s Tim Hortons branch to provide litter picking in the car park area and around the restaurant, starting from the main road.

He supplied the panel with a set of cleaning checklists which staff at the restaurant are directed to use.

Mr Singh added: “There is a process of managers who do regular cross-checks to make sure the premises around the restaurants are clean – every two hours.”

He agreed to a condition, that Watford Borough Council can enforce, which means staff are obliged to tidy up litter within 20 metres of the building.

The firm had previously asked the authority for permission to play “unamplified” recorded music ‘midnight ’til midnight’, but the request was “withdrawn”, council officers told the panel.

One neighbour in A412 St Albans Road emailed into Watford Borough Council before the meeting. They wrote: “The lights of Tim Hortons already light up all the front rooms of our home.

“[I] raised concerns at the time of opening directly to the venue and was grunted at, and told [there was] nothing they could do.

“Currently, there is antisocial behaviour around the venue including loud music from cars accessing the drive-through late at night, horns being honked due to slow service on the drive-through [and] noise from deliveries causing disturbance. There is no need for a 24-hour service at this location.

“We already hear the noise from the Sainsbury’s petrol station Tannoy and if Tim Hortons is allowed music, we will hear that as well, which means we will never get any peace and quiet.”

The neighbour added: “I would be very disappointed in Watford Borough Council if they accepted this unnecessary application.”

Dr Rami Eliad, of the next-door Garston Medical Centre, also wrote in. He asked the authority for “arrangements made to clear litter created by Tim Hortons packaging that is found regularly near our premises and in our car parking areas, as well as in the surrounding green areas.”

Dr Eliad feared “antisocial behaviour resulting in littering, damage and discarding of cigarette butts around the surgery” and customers parking at the surgery’s 28 allocated parking spaces which are “essential to support patients’ access to the surgery”.

The panel granted the late-night refreshments licence on the condition that staff clear litter within a minimum 20m radius of the store. Another 24-hour restaurant in the area is the McDonald’s Watford Dome Roundabout branch, housed in the 24-hour Asda Watford Supercentre.

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