Sunday, 20 May 2018

Couple win fight to open village fish and chip shop

A COUPLE’S plans to open a fish and chip shop in Woodcote have been approved following an appeal.

A COUPLE’S plans to open a fish and chip shop in Woodcote have been approved following an appeal.

Lester and Jackie Paxford sought permission for the takeaway next door to their home in Wood Green in March last year.

The premises, part of a shopping parade, was previously occupied by RJC Dry Cleaners, which shut two years ago.

South Oxfordshire District Council rejected the couple’s application following complaints by residents that it would create noise and disturbance. Woodcote Parish Council had also recommended refusal.

Now a government planning inspector has overturned the decision, saying the objectors’ fears were unfounded.

Gideon Amos said because the shop was near the main Goring Road any noise increase would be barely noticeable and it would not cause significantly more car journeys as most customers were likely to walk.

The Paxfords had also taken sufficient steps to deal with food smells by proposing to install extractor fans.

Mr Amos said: “Businesses already operate in Wood Green. Although these are of a different nature to the appeal proposal, the cooking of hot food is not of itself an unusual activity in a residential area.

“The potential for people to congregate in and around Wood Green is already present... and thus noise and disturbance from visitors in the evening would not be unusual in the area.

“The presence of the proposed use open in the evenings would provide a welcome degree of surveillance of the area by customers and staff, which I consider a deterrent to any potential disorder.”

Mr and Mrs Paxford bought the premises in November 2011, shortly after the previous owner moved out.

They submitted a planning application last year after the district council advised them it was likely to be approved.

Although there were objections, there were also letters of support from more than a dozen Woodcote residents. Mrs Paxford, 45, said: “We expected the whole process to take eight or so weeks and it ended up taking 19 months. It has been an utter nightmare.

“There were times when it looked like it was impossible that we would get permission. We didn’t know whether it would go through and didn’t know what our back-up plan would be if it failed.

“Because of the planning problems we couldn’t apply for a mortgage to cover the start-up costs, which are well over £100,000. I can’t describe the stress it has caused us.”

She added: “We stuck to our guns because we knew there was no valid reason to refuse it.”

Mrs Paxford and her husband, who is 48, will run the business with their 23-year-old son Steven.

It will be called Woodcote Fish and Chips and the couple hope to open the business in about four months’ time. It will close at 10pm during the week and will not open on Sundays or public holidays.

The couple have not worked in catering before. Mrs Paxford used to run her own carpet cleaning business and she looks after the accounts for Kimberley’s Hair Studio next door, which is run by her daughter Kimberley, 24.

Mrs Paxford said: “I think most people in Woodcote are pleased for us. We’ve been getting congratulations everywhere we go and lots of people have said they will visit.”

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