Friday, 15 December 2017

Neighbours call for ‘noisy’ coffee house to be closed

NEIGHBOURS of a Wargrave coffee shop want it shut down.

NEIGHBOURS of a Wargrave coffee shop want it shut down.

Tony Colborne, who owns the Old Post Office in High Street, has applied to Wokingham Borough Council for permission to change the use from two shops to a café.

He bought the premises in June 2008 and, after carrying out renovations, operated a florists and post office. In May 2009, the shops became an interior design business but this closed in July 2011.

The coffee house opened a year ago and has a licence to sell alcohol.

Mr Colborne, of Wyatt Close, Wargrave, said: “The café has been trading since February 2012. It has become very popular with the local community and its presence has dramatically increased pedestrian activity in the High Street, creating a vibrancy that had not previously existed for many years. It has been proved over the past four years that tested retail businesses cannot survive in Wargrave high street.

“In 2008, the Government forced the closure of the village post office due to lack of trade and it being unviable.

“There have been no external changes to the premises including the front elevation. The only change has been the use of the building since hot meals are now being consumed on site.”

But neighbours David and Caroline Ellwood say the noise from the café is “unacceptable”.

In a letter to Wokingham Borough Council, the couple said: “The issue is the everyday noise generated from the premises being used as a café/meeting/private hire venue, not just the noise from one-off and live music events.

“We hear everything that takes place in the adjoining rooms downstairs, and to a lesser extent upstairs, not only private conversations but as people come and go, pulling out chairs and moving furniture. The downstairs rooms can get very busy at weekends and the noise levels rise as more alcohol is consumed in the evenings.

“Working from home is nearly impossible. Entertaining in our house is embarrassing as the noise is a constant interruption and at times it is difficult for our three-year-old child to sleep through.

“On occasion we have been subjected to extremely foul-mouthed teenagers boasting references to the consumption of drugs. A fight occurred on one occasion as well as urinating on the high street and knocking on our front door and running away. It is unacceptable behaviour to endure at any time, let alone at 12.45am on a Sunday.”

The Ellwoods said they feel unable to use their garden and that access to their house is often restricted by people parking on double yellow lines outside the property.

They added: “We have never been warned of upcoming events, we have never received an apology for disturbances and we can see no evidence of any steps having been taken to address noise and disturbance issues.

“The above concerns, both individually and cumulatively, have a harmful impact upon the enjoyment of our family home on a daily basis.We would therefore urge the council to refuse planning permission and authorise enforcement action requiring the use of the café to cease.”

Adam Sokolowski, who recently moved to High Street with his wife, said they supported use of the premises as a café during the day but objected to events at night.

He said: “We have experienced first-hand the noise intrusion from the Old Post Office during their evening events. Live music events are wholly inappropriate considering the construction of the building, floors and walls.

“We object to the evening bistro/restaurant functions without appropriate noise abatement measures.”

The application has also received 13 letters of support.

Philip and Rebecca Beard, of High Street, said: “The Old Post Office has brought some life back into the high street. It provides a great atmosphere for the villagers and offers an alternative to the pubs.”

Isabel Savage said: “I live across the road from the coffee shop and I have a child aged nine. The shop does not pose any noise disruption day or night to myself or my family. In fact, it is a massive asset to the village as it brings the community together.”

Susanna Hanks, of East View Road, Wargrave, said: “I am a supporter of the Old Post Office. It has developed a very good community café in the village, providing a much-needed gap in our facilities. It employs local staff and brings a buzz to the high street, providing a popular meeting place.”

Wargrave Parish Council has said it has no objection to the application.

Chairman Richard Bush said he could understand the immediate neighbours’ objections but said it was good that a High Street business was enjoying success.

He added: “There was a similar problem with a pub in the village a few years ago and they ended up installing sound-proofing.”

“In 2008, the Government forced the closure of the village post office due to lack of trade and it being unviable.

“There have been no external changes to the premises including the front elevation. The only change has been the use of the building since hot meals are now being consumed on site.”

But neighbours David and Caroline Ellwood say the noise from the café is “unacceptable”.

In a letter to Wokingham Borough Council, the couple said: “The issue is the everyday noise generated from the premises being used as a café/meeting/private hire venue, not just the noise from one-off and live music events.

“We hear everything that takes place in the adjoining rooms downstairs, and to a lesser extent upstairs, not only private conversations but as people come and go, pulling out chairs and moving furniture. The downstairs rooms can get very busy at weekends and the noise levels rise as more alcohol is consumed in the evenings.

“Working from home is nearly impossible. Entertaining in our house is embarrassing as the noise is a constant interruption and at times it is difficult for our three-year-old child to sleep through.

“On occasion we have been subjected to extremely foul-mouthed teenagers boasting references to the consumption of drugs. A fight occurred on one occasion as well as urinating on the high street and knocking on our front door and running away. It is unacceptable behaviour to endure at any time, let alone at 12.45am on a Sunday.”

The Ellwoods said they feel unable to use their garden and that access to their house is often restricted by people parking on double yellow lines outside the property.

They added: “We have never been warned of upcoming events, we have never received an apology for disturbances and we can see no evidence of any steps having been taken to address noise and disturbance issues.

“The above concerns, both individually and cumulatively, have a harmful impact upon the enjoyment of our family home on a daily basis.We would therefore urge the council to refuse planning permission and authorise enforcement action requiring the use of the café to cease.”

Adam Sokolowski, who recently moved to High Street with his wife, said they supported use of the premises as a café during the day but objected to events at night.

He said: “We have experienced first-hand the noise intrusion from the Old Post Office during their evening events. Live music events are wholly inappropriate considering the construction of the building, floors and walls.

“We object to the evening bistro/restaurant functions without appropriate noise abatement measures.”

The application has also received 13 letters of support.

Philip and Rebecca Beard, of High Street, said: “The Old Post Office has brought some life back into the high street. It provides a great atmosphere for the villagers and offers an alternative to the pubs.”

Isabel Savage said: “I live across the road from the coffee shop and I have a child aged nine. The shop does not pose any noise disruption day or night to myself or my family. In fact, it is a massive asset to the village as it brings the community together.”

Susanna Hanks, of East View Road, Wargrave, said: “I am a supporter of the Old Post Office. It has developed a very good community café in the village, providing a much-needed gap in our facilities. It employs local staff and brings a buzz to the high street, providing a popular meeting place.”

Wargrave Parish Council has said it has no objection to the application.

Chairman Richard Bush said he could understand the immediate neighbours’ objections but said it was good that a High Street business was enjoying success.

He added: “There was a similar problem with a pub in the village a few years ago and they ended up installing sound-proofing.”

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