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Muswell Hill and Highgate residents mount legal challenge against Queen's Wood cafe

PUBLISHED: 15:01 05 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:04 07 September 2010

A GROUP of 70 residents is mounting a legal challenge against the council s decision to allow late-night music and alcohol at a Queen s Wood cafe. The residents, from roads surrounding The Queen s Wood Lodge in Muswell Hill Road, have clubbed together to

A GROUP of 70 residents is mounting a legal challenge against the council's decision to allow late-night music and alcohol at a Queen's Wood cafe.

The residents, from roads surrounding The Queen's Wood Lodge in Muswell Hill Road, have clubbed together to force a Magistrates' Court hearing into whether Haringey Council should have given the cafe permission to sell alcohol from noon to 11pm on Monday to Thursday and until midnight on Friday and Saturday.

In June, a panel of three councillors also granted the cafe permission to play non-amplified music at private parties until 9pm Sunday to Thursday and 10pm on Friday and Saturday, despite receiving more than 100 letters of objection.

Andrew Darwin is a local resident and solicitor leading the legal challenge. He says only one of the three panel members granting the licence visited the site opposite Highgate Wood to see if it was suitable to serve alcohol there.

"It's just not an appropriate place, it's a nature reserve, there is overwhelming local opposition to it and once a licence is granted it is very difficult to take it away," he said.

"If Mr Shelmerdine [Queen's Wood Lodge owner] handed his lease to someone else they might turn it into a late-night bar and you have to wonder if that is appropriate."

The matter will be heard at Highgate Magistrates' Court in October.

Murray Shelmerdine did not wish to comment on the situation, but speaking in June at the licensing panel, he sought to reassure residents by saying: "We'd like to sell wine and beer to people with meals and alcohol to people attending private functions in the evenings - I've never at any time wanted to run the places as a nightclub or pub."

However councillor Jonathan Bloch said: "The owner of the cafe has to realise if he is based in a nature reserve, he needs to respect the environment. He has to reach a compromise with the local residents so that you can have both a viable cafe and respect for residents and the environment."

This week the council also met Mr Shelmerdine after concerns were raised that the licence they had been granted contradicted the terms of their lease from Haringey.

Mr Shelmerdine said that, after the discussion with the council, there was no question of them being shut down or having their licence rescinded.

A spokeswoman for Haringey Council confirmed the legal challenge and, speaking about the cafe's licence, added: "A licence can be applied for, and granted, for any premises regardless of the terms of the lease," she said.

"However, even with a licence, leaseholders must comply with the terms of their lease, so if the licensed activities are not permitted within the terms of the lease, they will have to apply to amend the lease as well. The council has contacted the leaseholders to advise them of the terms of their lease, and will be visiting the premises to ensure that they are not in breach of those terms.

"Any application to alter the terms of the lease would be dealt with taking all factors into consideration.

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