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Hampstead Heath café leases extended to 2018

27 May 2016 by
Hampstead Heath café leases extended to 2018

Following massive public opposition which forced restaurant chain Benugo to pull out of a deal to take over three Hampstead Heath cafes, the City of London has voted to extend the incumbents' leases until January 2018.

The Corporation's Hampstead Heath committee voted on the extension to three cafes at Parliament Hill (pictured), Golders Hill Park and Highgate Wood for 18 months in order to give officials time to consult with local residents and park users before retendering the leases. It rejected a proposal to extend the incumbents' leases by three years.

Local campaigners say the decision reduces the likelihood that the leases will be offered to large chains once they are retendered.

Benugo was awarded a three-year contract for the cafes in early April, but the decision triggered widespread public opposition to the cafes' family-run businesses being replaced by a large chain.

The Parliament Hill Cafe has been run by Alberto D'Auria, 70, and his family for over 33 years. Protesters launched an online campaign which gathered over 23,000 signatures and as a result Benugo decided to pull out of the deal.

The Hampstead Heath committee also gave the green light to a set of guidelines bidders will have to follow once the contracts are retendered. These include providing affordable food and drink to a high and consistent standard, paying staff the London Living Wage and providing locally sourced, healthy food and a varied menu.

Virginia Rounding, chair of the City Corporation's Hampstead Heath Management Committee, said: "We are listening and learning from the views of our visitors. We now look forward to working together in the best interests of the Heath and its visitors."

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