A High Court judge has ruled Waltham Forest Council acted unlawfully and failed “to accord with reality” in trying to evict a soup kitchen for vulnerable homeless people after 25 years.
Christian Kitchen was last year told it must leave Mission Grove in Walthamstow due to claims of anti-social behaviour.
It was offered a new site in a lay-by near the Crooked Billet roundabout – a location kitchen organisers claimed was unsafe and unsuitable.
But the kitchen can continue to operate from Mission Grove after today’s High Court ruling by Judge Mrs Justice Ingrid Simler, who found the council had failed to consider the potential negative impact on service users and ordered it to review its plans.
Norman Coe, chairman of the trustees of Christian Kitchen, said: “We are delighted with the ruling today which has essentially saved the service from closure.
“We are now just looking forward to concentrating on providing hot meals to our users rather than the distractions of fighting to save the service.”
He said trustees now hope the authority will work with them to find a satisfactory solution.
Explaining her decision Justice Simler said: “The council should have considered the likely impact of its decision on the vulnerable users of the soup kitchen on the basis that the soup kitchen would close rather than on the wholly unrealistic basis that they would suffer little or no detriment because the soup kitchen could relocate to the lay-by at Crooked Billet.
She added that it was unlikely those people would be able to access public transport to access the alternative site, which Christian Kitchen says is up to 50 minutes away.
The council’s insistence that there was no evidence to suggest the relocation would affect users’ ability to access the kitchen “fails to accord with reality or common sense”, she said.
Alex Rook, a lawyer from Irwin Mitchell who represented the charity pro-bono, said the judgement proved Christian Kitchen’s longstanding argument that the council failed to regard the needs of vulnerable users.
The cost to the taxpayer of the attempted eviction is not yet known, the authority claims, as it is subject to an assessment process.
The council has been contacted for comment.