Saturday, 20 August 2022

Restaurateur fails to persuade councillors over ban on deck use

Restaurateur fails to persuade councillors over ban on deck use

A CHEF’S plans to extend the opening hours of the outdoor area at his Henley restaurant have been opposed by town councillors.

Shaun Dickens, who runs Shaun Dickens at The Boathouse in Station Road, has applied for permission to use the decked area overlooking the river until 9pm to serve pre-dinner drinks to diners.

At the moment he is not allowed to use it after 6pm under the planning permission given when the former boathouse was first turned into a restaurant in 2008 to prevent neighbours in Boathouse Reach being disturbed.

Mr Dickens, who had a similar request turned down two years ago, says the restriction costs him business as some corporate customers planning to book for dinner decide not to when they discover they won’t be able to go outside.

He is supported by customers but Henley Town Council’s planning committee has recommended the application is refused.

Councillor Simon Smith, who chairs the committee, said other restaurants had restrictions due to noise.

He said: “We previously recommended this was refused for good reason.

“It was due to a number of complaints from residents about the risk of noise at that time of day from people hanging around outside having a drink and a cigarette.

“It’s exactly the same as conditions we put on La Bodega and other places.”

Councillor Ian Reissmann said there was no good reason to change the restriction.

“I don’t think anything has changed because the concerns would be to do with noise and people gathering on the decking,” he said.

“It’s a residential area and we need to protect the interests of those residents.

“I do see the potential value in supporting a commercial business and I don’t want to stand in their way but I do not think the case made is good enough.” Councillor Kellie Hinton said: “He isn’t losing all the corporate events. I know there are partnerships with Hobbs and they go on until late.

“I don’t think the arguments are strong enough.”

Among the supporters of the application was Hugo Loudon, from Shiplake, who said using the deck later in summer would help the business stay viable.

“There are no residents beside the establishment, only nearby,” he said.

“The business does not sell cut-price food and drink so is unlikely to support rowdy types.”

Gary Boys, of River Terrace, said: “Shaun Dickens has brought an ambitious and excellent riverside restaurant to Henley and I have been impressed by the way the restaurant has easily fitted into the local community.

“I would have no objections to the application and would think that by now Shaun Dickens can manage the changes to complement the town and improve the riverside.” Anne Jones, who lives in Boathouse Reach, said: “I have never been disturbed by Shaun Dickens’s restaurant in any way. I support the variation of planning permission suggested.”

But Pat Lane, who also lives in Boathouse Reach, said: “The applicant was aware of the restrictions on the use of the terrace when he opened his business and must have taken the restrictions into account when drawing up his business plan.

“The restaurant terrace is adjacent to residential properties that have balconies, so noise arising from the terrace would be extremely invasive.

“There is already noise at night from the terrace when diners who smoke go outside for a cigarette and are drinking.”

The committee voted 6-1 to recommend the application is refused with only Mayor Julian Brookes voting against.

South Oxfordshire District Council will make the final decision by May 30.

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