You are here

Policy HC6 Supporting the night-time economy


  1. Boroughs should develop a vision for the night-time economy, supporting its growth and diversification, in particular within strategic areas of night-time activity (see Table A1.1 and Figure 7.7), building on the Mayor’s Vision for London as a 24-Hour City.
  2. In Development Plans, town centre strategies and planning decisions, boroughs should:
    1. promote the night-time economy, where appropriate, particularly in the Central Activities Zone, strategic areas of night-time activity, town centres, and where public transport such as the Night Tube and Night Buses are available
    2. improve inclusive access and safety, and make the public realm welcoming for all night-time economy users and workers
    3. diversify the range of night-time activities, including extending the opening hours of existing daytime facilities such as shops, cafés, libraries, galleries and museums
    4. address the cumulative impact of high concentrations of licensed premises and their impact on anti-social behaviour, noise pollution, health and wellbeing and other impacts for residents, and seek ways to diversify and manage these areas
    5. ensure night-time economy venues are well-served with safe and convenient night-time transport
    6. protect and support evening and night-time cultural venues such as pubs, night clubs, theatres, cinemas and music and other arts venues.
  3. Promoting management of the night-time economy through an integrated approach to planning and licensing, out-of-hours servicing and deliveries, safety and security, and environmental and cleansing services should be supported. Boroughs should work closely with stakeholders such as the police, local businesses, patrons, workers and residents.

The night-time economy refers to all economic activity taking place between the hours of 6pm and 6am. Night-time economic activities include eating, drinking, entertainment, shopping and spectator sports, as well as hospitality, cleaning, wholesale and distribution, transport and medical services, which employ a large number of night-time workers.

The night-time economy is becoming increasingly important to London’s economy. The Mayor is keen to promote London as a 24-hour global city, taking advantage of London’s competitive edge and attractiveness for businesses and people looking to expand beyond the usual daytime economy into night-time economic opportunities. However, 24-hour activities are not suitable for every part of London and its residents, and boroughs should balance the needs of local residents with the economic benefits of promoting a night-time economy.

London’s night-time economy is generally focused in the Central Activities Zone and within town centres across the city. Different areas of night-time activity function at different scales and have different catchments. They have been classified, as set out in Table A1.1 and Figure 7.7, into three broad categories:

  • NT1 – Areas of international or national significance
  • NT2 – Areas of regional or sub-regional significance
  • NT3 – Areas with more than local significance

Each area will have its own character, which should be recognised and supported in order to maintain the rich diversity of London’s night-time economy. Areas of international or national significance play a crucial role in putting London on the world stage, bringing internationally-renowned culture, performers and productions. Regional and sub-regional areas attract visitors from across and beyond London, and often have one or more larger venues and a mature night-time economy. These are generally in London’s larger town centres. Areas with more than local significance draw visitors from other parts of London and tend to feature smaller venues and premises.

In addition, there are some town centres where the night-time economy serves the local area as well as other specific locations – such as London’s wholesale markets, major hospitals, and some industrial areas – where there is significant economic or service activity at night. This includes some retail and service industries, health services, policing and security, and transport and logistics. In exercising their various functions, boroughs should have regard to the strategic areas of night-time activity, as well as other night-time economic functions, and should set out strategies and policies that support the specific role of these areas in order to promote London’s night-time economy.

There are many benefits to promoting night-time economic activity such as generating jobs, improving income from leisure and tourism, and making town centres safer by increasing activity and providing passive surveillance. Managing issues such as transport, increased noise, crime, anti-social behaviour, perceptions of safety, the quality of the street environment, and the potential negative effects on the health and wellbeing of Londoners, will require specific approaches tailored to the night-time environment, activities and related behaviour. Boroughs are encouraged to consider appropriate management strategies and mitigation measures to reduce negative impacts on the quality of life of local residents, workers and night-time economy customers. Boroughs should also take account of local circumstances when considering whether to concentrate or disperse evening and night-time activities in town centres or within the CAZ.

Large concentrations of night-time activities can result in some places lacking activity and vitality during the day. Boroughs should consider opportunities to encourage the daytime uses of buildings that are mainly used for night-time activities to help diversify the 24-hour offer. Similarly, boroughs should explore the benefits of expanding the range of night-time economy activities to include extending opening hours and alternative evening and night-time uses of existing daytime facilities such as shops, cafés, libraries, theatres and museums. The temporary use of spaces and venues in the evening and at night can enhance the vibrancy and vitality of the night-time economy, particularly meanwhile uses of vacant premises, for example as arts venues, nightclubs, bars or restaurants.

The recently introduced Night Tube that operates on many Tube lines throughout the weekend, and the extensive network of night buses, has helped to create a public transport system that can support a 24-hour city including making travel easier for London’s many night workers. Boroughs are encouraged to work with Transport for London (TfL) to take advantage of improved night-time public transport to identify areas where night-time economic activity can be promoted and enhanced in a safe and attractive way. This would include considering planning applications for night-time venues and activities to diversify and enhance the night-time offer in town centres, particularly those that are within or well-connected to Areas for Regeneration (see Policy SD10 Strategic and local regeneration). Outer London boroughs, in particular, should consider the opportunities offered by an extended Night Tube and Night Bus network to increase the night-time offer in town centres for local residents, workers and visitors.

Boroughs should explore the benefits of diversifying the night-time mix of uses, particularly in areas where there are high concentrations of licensed premises, along with extended opening times of public places and spaces. This can help attract a wider range of visitors, including those who feel excluded from alcohol-based entertainment activities. It can also help decrease crime, anti-social behaviour and the fear of crime.

The night-time economy doesn’t only happen inside; many night-time activities make use of outside spaces including the public realm, and enjoying the public spaces of the city at night is an important part of the night-time experience. This requires careful and co-ordinated management between a wide variety of stakeholders in order to ensure that the city can be enjoyed at night to its fullest, and that the night-time economy complements rather than conflicts with daytime activities.

There are groups of people who avoid town centres and night-time activities for a variety of reasons, for example physical barriers and lack of facilities for disabled people and older people, perceptions around safety and security particularly for women, those who feel excluded for socio-economic reasons and issues of staff attitudes towards, and awareness of, LGBT+ and BAME groups. Making London’s night-time culture more enjoyable and inclusive requires ensuring a wide range of evening and night-time activities are on offer to London’s diverse population. Boroughs should also work with land owners, investors and businesses to address perceived barriers to accessing the night-time economy and enhance the experience of London at night. This can include requiring new developments to provide accessible toilets (see Policy S6 Public toilets), working with local police and businesses to make streets and the public realm safer and more welcoming, ensuring cleansing services are procured to clean up litter and sanitise streets and public areas, and working with local businesses, TfL and logistics operators to optimise servicing that occurs at night or supports the night-time economy.