Monday, 16 July 2018

Riverside restaurant bids to use outdoor terrace until 9pm

A RESTAURANT in Henley wants to keep its riverside terrace open later despite objections from neighbours.

A RESTAURANT in Henley wants to keep its riverside terrace open later despite objections from neighbours.

Shaun Dickens at the Boathouse in Station Road wants planning permission to use its outside decking area until 9pm.

At the moment, the terrace can only be used until 6pm under a condition that was imposed when permission was granted to convert the Hobbs of Henley boathouse in 2008.

The restaurant uses it as a waiting area where customers can order drinks before being shown to their table inside.

Chef Shaun Dickens, who launched his restaurant in 2012, says he would like to use the terrace later for people to have a drink before eating but that all food would continue to be served inside.

Henley Town Council's planning committee has recommended the application is approved.

Speaking at a committee meeting, Councillor Sam Evans spoke in Mr Dickensâ?? favour, saying: "He is going all-out to get a Michelin star and all power to him. He has found a niche in the market and filled it superbly. We should give him every bit of encouragement we can.

"He has been very clear that he will not let anyone eat outside because the ambience of the premises is part of the whole experience.

"We have very few river-fronted businesses of any kind in Henley and we need to help them, not make decisions to their detriment.

"There is already a lot of traffic noise in that area so I would be surprised if neighbours could hear any additional noise from customers.

"The restaurant is also very strict about having the decking totally clear by 6pm and I'm sure that would continue."

Councillor David Silvester said he felt extending the hours was â??only reasonable".

"Many customers will be coming off boats in the summer and won't want to walk far from where they are moored so this will encourage them," he said.

But Councillor Lorraine Hillier, who lives nearby in River Terrace, said: "It is actually a fairly quiet part of town and traffic is unusual later in the evening.

"That condition was put on for a very good reason. Mr Dickens will not be there forever and who knows who will take over from him?

"People are very happy with how he runs it but if you remove that condition you have less control over future occupiers.

"When businesses take over any new premises they know what restrictions apply and I'm fed up of people trying to override them later.

"Those restrictions were fought long and hard for people raised petitions and went up to the district council's offices to campaign.

"This is a big issue. People have lived there for years and years and itâ??s hard to control large groups of people who are drinking and smoking."

Six neighbours have written letters of objection.

Patricia Lane, of Boathouse Reach, said: "The restaurant terrace is adjacent to residential properties with balconies so noise from drinking and eating on the terrace would be extremely vbinvasive. There is already noise at night from the terrace when diners who smoke go outside for a cigarette and are drinking."

Mr Dickens, of Harpsden Road, said: "We have no need or desire to have people dining outside. I would categorically refuse it as we have spent a lot of money on the interior and are extremely proud of it.

"As a fine dining establishment, we just want our guests to be able to enjoy a gin and tonic or some champagne before they eat.

"Part of our reason for applying is pressure from our guests as they think it's ridiculous. The Angel on the Bridge is just down the road and can open late yet for some reason we have to shut everything at 6pm.

"I don't want to upset anyone and appreciate that other people have different opinions. I will respect whatever final decision is made."

South Oxfordshire District Council will decide whether to grant permission by March 19.

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email

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