Cycle theme cafe within spirit of community facilities policy

Enforcement against a change of use of a former public house to a mixed use including café, retail, cyclists' meeting place and cycle repair shop in a Berkshire village was upheld in respect of the retail and cyclists' meeting place but allowed with respect to the café and repair shop for no conflict with development plan policies which aimed to retain community facilities or adverse impacts on neighbouring occupiers.

There was no dispute between the council and appellant that a café use had occurred, but the appellant had argued that the retail element, cycle repairs and cyclists’ meet were de minimis. The inspector held differently, considering that each element was, or had been at the time of the enforcement notice and based on the evidence, a separate and distinct use as a matter of fact and degree and had taken place at a scale that was more than de minimis. She also held the retail, cycle repairs and cyclists’ meet were not ancillary to the café and the whole mixed use represented a breach of planning control.

With regard to the planning issues in the case, the inspector felt the use of the facility as a local drinking and eating facility was in the spirit of the development plan policy which aimed to retain community uses regardless of its cycle theme; she also felt the cycle repair element helped to sustain the café use and did not result in any harm and the cyclists’ meeting place took place outside the building and was a neutral element in the assessment. In contrast, the inspector felt the retail element could be widely interpreted and granting that part of the use would be counter to local and national policy to retain community uses. In addition, she felt the use of the site as a meeting place for cyclists would result in unacceptable noise and disturbance for the occupiers of the adjoining cottage at unsociable hours – up to 20 cyclists would meet early on a Saturday morning throughout the year with further meets in the evenings in the summer period. The inspector allowed the café and cycle repairs element subject to hours of operation and other conditions.

Inspector: Susan Wraith; Written representations

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