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Cafe at Scratchwood Open Space in Mill Hill reopens after squatters occupied building
A cafe blighted by squatters has finally reopened - months after the “mindless individuals” occupied the empty building.
Django Lounge, in Scratchwood Open Space, Mill Hill, had been due to serve teas and coffees to park users last June, but the day had to be postponed after intruders moved in.
Today, the new cafe, which celebrated its grand opening on Friday, is a bright and luxurious place for ramblers to relax after a walk in the fields.
New owner Umah Ahmed named the coffee shop after the film Django Unchained, which he said was “fascinating”.
He added: “It’s my passion. We’ve had squatters, bad weather and a leak - but the council have been very helpful.
“It’s my first day of seeing customers today and I am very happy.”
Last year, leaseholder Mukesh Hirani, director of Exact Homes Ltd, said the squatters were causing as “much havoc as possible”.
At the time, Hale ward Councillor Hugh Rayner said: "It is a great shame a group of mindless individuals have thought fit to come and camp in our lovely park."
The squatters eventually left on their own accord in mid-June.
Cllr Rayner visited the new cafe with Clive Cohen, chairman of the Barnet group of the London Wildlife Trust, and John Living, of the Mill Hill Preservation Society.
Mr Rayner said the 140 acre Scratchwood area is a “jewel in the crown” of the park.
He said: “The café will bring new life and vitality in this area.”