The coffee roastery has said it has to close its Harborough district cafe because it does not have permission to trade

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Harborough District Council said the company was in breach of an agreed planning condition which states that the site can only be used for light industrial purposes due to road safety concerns.

A coffee roastery has been told it has to close one of its cafes in the Harborough area as it does not have permission to trade.

Northern Cobbler expanded into the county last year with the opening of its second cafe and roastery at the Rolleston Lodge business center near Billesdon.

But, just over 18 months later, the company, which first opened in Leicester’s Queens Road, faces the prospect of having to close that second location. Harborough District Council said the business was in breach of an agreed planning condition which states the site can only be used for light industrial purposes due to road safety concerns.

The council issued an enforcement notice in February giving the company three months to close up shop. However, Northern Cobbler appealed the council’s decision and continued to operate, saying the changes to government policy mean the cafe respects the permitted use of the site. The appeal hearing will take place on Tuesday 22 November. A government planning inspector will then decide whether to allow the cafe to continue in business.

When the Rolleston Lodge business center was established in 2016, Leicestershire County Council, as the motorways authority, was concerned about the impact of additional traffic on the busy B6047 / Harborough road with which it shares a junction. The route that connects Melton Mowbray and Market Harborough has been subject to a number of safety measures introduced in 2011.

These included reducing the speed limit from 60mph to 50mph, as it featured a high number of accidents. The council said any development that increased traffic on the road would be detrimental to motorway safety.

A planning condition was added to the Rolleston Lodge Business Centers approval restricting the permitted use of the site to what was then classification B1c – light industrial use. At the time, cafes and restaurants were classified A3. However, government policy changes in 2020 combined the classifications of shops, financial and professional services, restaurants and cafes and businesses, under the single class E (Commercial, businesses and services). The scheduling policy usually allows changes to be made within a single class without requiring permission.

Northern Cobbler argued that this means their coffee is legal because the agreed and disputed uses fall under the same Class E group in a statement of appeal. However, Harborough District Council argues that the spirit of the condition – restricting use to light industrial use – is still relevant and should be honoured.

Leicestershire County Council has also weighed in to say the appeal should not be upheld as Northern Cobbler’s own assessment shows an increase in travel as a result of coffee. Two planning applications to remove the contentious planning condition have already been rejected by Harborough District Councils due to these concerns.

However, Northern Cobbler said the small number of extra journeys – around nine extra trips a day – is not a reason for refusal, as local planning policy states that permission can only be refused due to ‘unacceptable impacts on safety’ or a ‘serious impact’ on the road network. The company maintains that the nine additional trips do not meet this threshold.

If the planning inspector overseeing the appeal finds Northern Cobbler has breached planning regulations, the company should apply to keep the site open on a smaller scale. He argued that on-site roasting is a light industrial use and that a small adjoining cafe would be a secondary use. That wouldn’t be unusual for the industry, the company added. Harborough District Council has indicated that this may be acceptable if the full list of what will remain is submitted to them for approval.

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