Plans to expand an artisan café have been put on hold amid fears it could worsen traffic congestion and parking problems.

The owners of Sydney Rocks café in High Street, Southgate, want to boost their business by expanding into a neighbouring, vacant unit, which was formerly an e-cigarette shop.

Officers had recommended giving the go-ahead to the plans, saying in a report they would “not result in any unacceptable harm upon the neighbouring amenity”.

But at a planning committee meeting on Thursday, councillors voted to defer the application after raising concerns the “car-free” scheme could cause traffic issues – despite the presence of good public transport links close by.

Speaking at the meeting, a neighbour said the plans would “increase pollution and antisocial behaviour” and be “detrimental to the area and its residents”.

She told councillors the opening hours would be extended late into the evening, while using the narrow pavement for seating areas could push pedestrians into the road.

But the applicant’s agent, James Engel, said the proposed development was consistent with planning policies. He described it as a “sensitive proposal” that “is not considered harmful from a transportation perspective”. Mr Engel added that it would create at least six extra jobs.

Cllr Mike Rye (Conservative, Town) said there was already a “huge amount of parking and traffic” causing “a lot of inconvenience for people living in the nearby Meadway Estate”.

“This involves parking on pavements, blocking the access to the Meadway getting in and out,” he explained.

Cllr Daniel Anderson (Community First, Southgate Green) raised similar concerns. He said the area gets “extremely congested” and claimed this had been worsened by the nearby Fox Lane low-traffic neighbourhood.

“I am all for encouraging new businesses, but we have to balance up the impact on a broadly residential area,” he added. “The arguments in the report do not give me encouragement this will not lead to additional problems.”

Under questioning from Cllr Doug Taylor (Labour, Ponders End), a transport officer said that given the large number of public transport links in the area, the development would be expected to be “car-free” under the London Plan standards – meaning no parking spaces could be provided.

Following the debate, Cllr Rye proposed a motion to defer the application to a future meeting so planning officers could provide further information on parking and transportation. He also called for clarity over the proposed opening hours.

Cllr Rye’s motion was backed by a majority of councillors.