Chips are down for Five Guys burger chain

10 August 2018

A national burger chain that refused to make a Central London restaurant accessible to disabled customers has had enforcement action taken against them by Kensington and Chelsea Council.

Council planning chiefs wrote to John Eckbert, the Chief Executive of Five Guys, six months ago to request step-free access to the Kensington High Street restaurant, but Mr Eckbert refused to comply.

In response, Kensington and Chelsea Council issued a notice on the burger chain at 183 Kensington High Street, for its failure to comply with planning permission to build step-free access to their store.

The enforcement notice served under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and Five Guys have until 21 September to comply. If they fail to do so they will be liable for prosecution and/or remedial action by the Council.

Five Guys, which turned over £94m in revenue in 2016, applied for planning permission for a new shop front, which was granted on the condition that step-free access is provided. Five Guys has failed to do this and instead installed a step.

Currently Five Guys expect those in wheelchairs or with buggies to ring a bell and wait for staff to allow customers into the restaurant.

This denies those with disabilities a dignified entrance and fails to comply with design requirements of the Council or the London plan.

Cllr Will Pascall, Kensington and Chelsea Council’s Lead Member for Planning, said: “I am astounded that in 2018 we are being forced to take this action to ensure a major retail chain complies with its planning permission and offers a dignified way for people to enter. They have been given countless opportunities to remedy the problem and instead have spent time and considerable money in trying to prevent the Council from working with them to rectify the situation. Indeed, doing what they are morally and legally obliged to do would have been far cheaper.”

Jamie Renton, Chief Executive of Action Disability Kensington & Chelsea, added: “As the local organisation of disabled people, we very much welcome the strong, decisive action being taken by the council. This issue was brought to our attention by one of our members, not long after the restaurant opened and we have been campaigning about it ever since. As ever, all we are asking for is the same right to access the premises as everyone else.”

Phil Talbot, Head of Communications at disability charity Scope, said: “Five Guys decision not to install a step-free entrance is unacceptable. Disabled people should have an equal chance to go out for a meal with family and friends without restaurants making this harder.”