Wellington cafe applies to build annex to fit social distancing rules

A park cafe is seeking permission for an annex, as social distancing rules mean customers can no longer sit in its main building.

Bowring Park. Photo: Google Maps
Bowring Park. Photo: Google Maps

Bowring Park Cafe manager David Cheshire has applied for planning permission for the 39-square-metre structure which, if approved, will be constructed from converted shipping containers and stand in an area currently used for car parking and temporary seating.

Wellington Town Council Planning Committee members expressed concern about the potential loss of parking space and said the legal position was unclear, as the cafe rents the building and sits on Telford & Wrekin Council land. They agreed to refer the application to a full session of the town council, and asked staff to prepare a briefing.

The borough council will make its decision about the proposal at a later date.

Application documents submitted by Mr Cheshire say the proposed site, near the southeast corner of the current building, “is a tarmacked area currently used for a combination of parking cars and temporary seating for customers”.

He says they are not able to seat customers inside the cafe itself because of restrictions brought in to limit the spread of Covid-19, so the plan to have three 20-foot “converted shipping containers” placed together, with windows and doors added, to make the annex.

Reservations

Planning committee member Dorothy Roberts said: “My concern about this is that they’re planning to build on council property, and I really think that needs to be resolved first.

“Who will repair it? Who will insure it? And what happens when the current people leave?

“I don’t object to the building in itself, but those are my reservations.”

Deputy town clerk Andrew Roberts said: “You don’t have to own the land to make the planning application, as long as you’ve told the owner. Whether the committee wishes to make comments subject to the landowner – Telford & Wrekin Council – approving of the building, I’ll leave entirely to members.”

Acting committee chairman Lisa Jinks said: “My concern is that we’ve already raised on numerous occasions the issue of parking.

“We’ve already had a couple of near-misses with people having to drive past the chairs that are outside [the cafe] and then go up onto the area where this container is going to be. My concern is that we’re going to lose that additional space and people are going to park on Haygate Road.

“Although I wholeheartedly support the business, the safety of Wellingtonians and those who visit really ought to be taken into consideration.”

Members agreed to refer the application to the full council. Councillor Jinks said it was “only fair and reasonable” to involve other members, as the Bowring Park is “vital” to the town.

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