Abney Park to host up to three events a week as ‘compromise’ reached following residents’ objections

Abney Park Chapel, pictured in 2018. Photograph: Marathon

Politicians have agreed a “compromise” that will allow alcohol to be served at Abney Park Cemetery at events for up to three days a week.

Residents told Hackney’s licensing committee they were worried about the impact of noise on nearby neighbours and bats, which are a protected species.

The council’s events team had applied for a licence to serve drinks on every day of the week at the cemetery’s newly restored chapel.

Stoke Newington’s Abney Park is one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ Victorian cemeteries and is now a memorial garden and nature reserve.

Lucy Wedderburn, who lives near the park, outlined concerns over potential public nuisance and noise.

She wants to protect “what should be a dark space at night”, adding: “People need to be able to sleep at night. We will hear what happens.”

Wedderburn said residents want to protect the beauty of the nature reserve and asked for more details of plans to avoid disturbing bats and owls.

Kimberley Jacobs, the council’s events manager, said there would be strict rules for events, with security staff whenever alcohol was served.

She told the licensing committee this week that there would be a “non-negotiable” rule that under-18s can only attend when alcohol is served if accompanied by a responsible adult.

Events such as wedding ceremonies do not last long, Jacobs said, which limits the amount of alcohol guests can drink.

She added that the council has been advised to have low level lighting inside the chapel and there is also a bat loft set up.

She said noise would be limited to 93 decibels inside the chapel.

Jacobs explained that it is not possible for guests to leave via Church Street rather than Stoke Newington High Street at night, as Wedderburn had suggested.

The path to the high street has been restored, with low level lighting, but the other exit has not.

Tom Walker from Abney Park Trust said: “We conditionally support the proposal, but the council needs to adopt a range of policies to create appropriate events. Without that, there is a risk of public nuisance.”

He said the Trust hopes to hold events in the park, and wants “arrangements to support successful events, respect nature reserve, history and heritage”.