Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Permission refused to convert cafe into home

PLANS to turn a Wargrave café into a home have been turned down.

Wokingham Borough Council, the planning authority, says the conversion would harm the vitality of the village high street.

Lynda Colborne applied to convert the Old Post Office in High Street because she said businesses in the village were struggling to survive.

But dozens of residents wrote to the council, saying the business was important to Wargrave.

Wargrave Parish Council also objected, saying there was insufficient justification for the loss of a retail amenity in the high street.

In 2013 Mrs Colborne’s former husband Tony applied for planning permission to turn the property into a home after closing the café, which he had been running himself for a year.

The application was later withdrawn after the business was leased to Karin Edlind and her partner Tim Lawrence, who still run it.

Mrs Colborne took over as owner after the couple divorced in 2014.

In her application, she said: “It has been demonstrated over the last decade that tested retail businesses cannot survive in Wargrave high street as shown by the closure of the post office and the numerous unsuccessful businesses that have floundered in the building since 2008.”

In its decision notice, the borough council said: “Insufficient evidence has been provided to establish that the retail unit is unviable and in the absence of such information it is considered that the proposal would adversely harm the viability and vitality of the high street.”

The two-storey building, which served as the village post office for more than 150 years until that closed in 2008, comprises the café on the ground floor and offices on the first floor.

It was bought by Mr Colborne shortly after the post office closed and also housed a florists and home interiors shop before he opened the café in March 2012.

Miss Edlind and Mr Lawrence, who also run the Weir Grove fine dining restaurant in High Street, leased the building in April 2013.

They spent a month refurbishing the café before it
re-opened.

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