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Burgh House U-turn over alcohol plans

PUBLISHED: 13:13 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:50 07 September 2010

How the Ham&High reported the story

How the Ham&High reported the story

Susanna Wilkey ANGRY neighbours have forced Burgh House bosses to do a swift U-turn over plans for a 14-hour-a-day alcohol licence. An emergency meeting was called by the Hampstead museum s trustees after the Ham&High revealed the strength of feeling agai

Susanna Wilkey

ANGRY neighbours have forced Burgh House bosses to do a swift U-turn over plans for a 14-hour-a-day alcohol licence.

An emergency meeting was called by the Hampstead museum's trustees after the Ham&High revealed the strength of feeling against their plans.

The museum tried to allay residents' fears about the plans, and ended up backtracking on major parts of its application - agreeing to ban music completely, only serve alcohol with food and not serve alcohol after 9.30pm in the garden and 10pm inside.

Burgh House claimed it never intended to change any aspect of its day-to-day running, despite applying for a alcohol licence from 9am until 11pm every day and to host live music events.

But as well as voicing their concerns with application, residents also used the meeting last Wednesday night to air their long-running grievances with Burgh House.

They claim there are too many summer functions and too much noise constantly throughout the week. But without such functions, bosses say the museum would be forced to close.

"During the summer there is a relentless sequence of events starting early in the morning and finishing in the evening and it has been driving me mad," said Ruth Rach, who lives next door in Wells House.

"Burgh House has changed. It has become a commercial enterprise and there are more and more events every year.

"Reducing the application until only 10pm doesn't really make me happy. I would be happy if there were a reduced number of events and if we could have some days off that were quiet.

"I feel like moving because I don't want to live here anymore. Nothing is going to change and the financial aspect is always the trump card which we can do nothing about."

Trustees of the house agreed to make the changes after the Heath and Hampstead Society, which has a long-running tradition of opposing licences it feels are unnecessary, raised its concerns.

Chairman Tony Hillier said: "Restricting the sale of alcohol to only with food would go a long way to making sure Burgh House doesn't become a bar."

Burgh House bosses say they have tried their best to minimise the impact of events.

Chairman of the trustees Matthew Lewin told those assembled: "We have tried very hard to respond to your concerns and made it clear to the stewards at the events what the agreement is regarding keeping the noise down. We have also roped off the part of the garden near Wells House. We need to have these functions because without the private parties there is no Burgh House.

"There is a limited amount we can do but what we can do we have tried very hard. Burgh House was created in its current form in 1979 and it has been letting rooms for private parties since then as well as having a buttery and people using the garden.

"What we have now and in this application is absolutely nothing new. I understand the noise is a problem but I cannot see what more we can do about it."

Fellow Burgh House trustee Tony Ghilchik, who is also vice chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society, added: "We have had to increase the number of events otherwise Burgh House would have to close down. There is no room to scale back at all because we are very short of money at the moment."

A final decision from Camden Council on the licence is due on Wednesday February 11.


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