Friday, 04 December 2020

Councillors back farm cafe expansion plan

PLANS to extend a business in Sonning Common have been supported by the parish council.

PLANS to extend a business in Sonning Common have been supported by the parish council.

Richard Scott, who owns the Herb Farm off Peppard Road, has applied for planning permission for a 224 sq m extension for a new café.

The two-storey addition would include an open plan café, kitchen, cold store, two craft rooms and toilets on the ground floor with an office space on the first floor. 

A outdoor dining area would also be created.

Councillors agreed to support the plan in principle at a meeting on Monday last week but had some concerns about the design.

Councillor Leigh Rawlins said: “We support the employment and the fact that they need more space. But we have to make sure the building is in keeping with the character and the rural setting. Particularly given the high quality of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

The application says the “ethos” behind it is to “improve and upgrade the existing inadequate kitchen facilities to enable the Herb Farm to deliver an outstanding visitor experience to all customers” and to “provide improved toilet facilities for customers and a comfortable year-round environment”.

Councillor Tom Fort said: “It’s a commercial site and as a potential employment site we should be seen to support it. People come from a long way away to use it.”

Resident Ann Butler-Smith, of Westleigh Drive, has written to South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, in support for the plans.

She said: “I think that the Herb Farm is an asset to the Sonning Common community, sitting quietly amidst the countryside, offering a pleasant place for visitors to explore the gardens before having refreshments.

“I have no objection to the proposed building and expansion, I am quite sure that there is a need to enlarge their very popular, but small café.”

The district council will make a decision by September 29.

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