UK: Guinness allowed to build GBP 73 million microbrewery

Despite 32 objections from residents and the local district authorities, Guinness has been given permission to build a GBP 73 million microbrewery and culture hub in Covent Garden, a shopping and entertainment hub in London's West End. Plans for the 50,000 square feet (4.645 square meters) venue on six floors with a 200 people yard were criticized by nearby residents for the amount of noise in the middle of a residential area and disruption it will cause. Residents were also worried that revellers would be able to see into their homes from the two-storey roof terrace or the top-floor restaurant.

The Westminster City Council decided yesterday to approve the plans under the condition that Guinness reduces the amount of space in its new courtyard and closes its drinks terrace after 9.30pm.

Guinness at Old Brewer’s Yard’, a new microbrewery and culture hub in Covent Garden, London, is set to open in late 2023. Old Brewer’s Yard first brewed beer back in 1722. 300 years later, Guinness intends to be bringing the site back to life.

The venue builds on the success of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin and the opening of Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh in 2021. It also demonstrates Diageo’s confidence in London and the UK as a go-to destination for tourists and its commitment to the hospitality sector. Guinness sales in Great Britain have grown by over 30% in the second half of 2021. 1 in every 10 pints sold in London is now a Guinness.

The concept of the new location will be based on three pillars

  1. A microbrewery to produce limited edition beers and offer guests tours with Guinness beer specialists to taste and learn about the iconic stout, its storied history and ambitions for the future.
  2. Event spaces and a central covered courtyard hosting events across food, drink, the arts and special cultural occasions, which will be open for use by the local community.
  3. A Guinness store selling rare items via collaborations and partnerships bespoke to the London experience.

The site will also become the Southern UK hub of Diageo’s Learning for Life Bartending and Hospitality Programme. The program has provided skills and improved the employability and livelihoods of over 5,500 people across the UK to date. The ambition is for over 100 London based students to graduate from the ‘Guinness at Old Brewer’s Yard’ program each year, with a proportion of the employment opportunities to be ring-fenced for graduates of Learning for Life, a program for children and young people with learning difficulties and special educational needs.

Dayalan Nayager, Managing Director, Diageo Great Britain at that time and since July Diageo’s President Africa, said in January when first plans were revealed: “We’re excited to create a new home for Guinness in the heart of London. ‘Guinness at Old Brewer’s Yard’ will strengthen London’s hospitality community and be a must-visit destination for thousands of visitors to enjoy."

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