The recent redevelopment of the toilet on New Road has turned an eyesore into a useful building. When planning permission was given, its use was restricted to a shop or sandwich bar. Now the owners also want permission for it to be used as a café or restaurant. There is likely to be a mixed reaction to this. Some will welcome a new outlet. Others will be concerned about parking and damage to existing businesses.
The use of buildings is controlled by what are know as Use Class Orders. The former toilet, formally known as 1 New Road, had planning permission for use A1:
Shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices, pet shops, sandwich bars, showrooms, domestic hire shops, dry cleaners, funeral directors and internet cafes.
The planning application (19/00458/VAR) from a New Road resident states:
We wish to change the use of the property from A1 so that it includes A1 and A3 classes so we can start a restaurant/coffee shop. We want the condition to change to allow us to set up a coffee shop for the community.
All we want is to change use for building so we can open up a coffee shop / farm shop / delicatessen, selling local produce to the community up this side of town. We will not be cooking any meals in shop, but we will reheat croissants and panini snacks. As you find in Costa and Starbucks.
Use Class A3 allows the following:
The sale of food and drink for consumption on the premises – restaurants, snack bars and cafes.
Its expressly does not allow the premises to become a boozer (that’s Class A4). Neither does it allow the building to become a takeaway (Class A5). But it will be allowed to sell snacks and coffees to go under the existing A1 permission.
As I said in the introduction to this article, some people will be concerned about impact on existing businesses, especially Café V. Planning rules say that objections say that impact on existing businesses cannot be considered in decision making. (There are different rules for out of town supermarkets that obviously don’t apply here.)
Traffic is a major concern in this area. Those might be a valid reason for objection. But not everyone drives and a lot of people in this area walk to shop and get a coffee.
Customers could put pressure on residential parking space. But this will be no greater than A1 use and arguably A1 would generate a higher customer turnover as dwell time will be shorter. Most customers are likely to walk.