Monday, 08 August 2022

Restaurant under fire again after neighbours complain about store

Restaurant under fire again after neighbours complain about store

COUNCILLORS have called for a restaurant in Henley to be investigated by environmental health inspectors.

It comes after Café le Raj in Reading Road applied for retrospective planning permission for a food store at the back of the premises.

Neighbours objected, saying the store doors were continually left open, causing light and noise pollution.

Now concerns have been raised by town councillor Kellie Hinton, who last month accused the restaurant of being “unneighbourly” and called for it to be shut down after it applied for retrospective planning permission for an extraction system at the back of the building which has also upset neighbours.

She told a meeting of the town council’s planning committee that she had visited the premises to see the store.

Councillor Hinton said: “I was taken through the kitchen to see this shed. It is a large fridge. When I went out the door was wide open.

“It is noise pollution, it is light pollution, it is over-intensive, it is unneighbourly and it shouldn’t be there in the first place.

“Everything about it screams ‘wrong’. The door is definitely open. Food is left on open trays — no covers.” Committee chairman Simon Smith suggested that environmental health officers should inspect the restaurant and Cllr Hinton responded: “There are various issues there for another authority to be dealing with.”

Badshafa Miah, who
co-owns the restaurant, applied for planning permission for the food store in December but was turned down. Despite this, the white uPVC-clad store was installed.

Sue Turner, who runs the Candela hypnotherapy clinic next door and lives in a flat above, told the committee that since then she had not been able to enjoy her garden.

She said: “The doors are always open, it has bright lights at night and we get a lot of rats and cats. Whatever they do it will look awful and we have to live with it.

“As the food store is at the back of the garden we had to put up with the whole mood of the kitchen — if they are in a bad mood or shouting it disrupts the use of our garden.”

Carole Trethewey, of Queen Street, said the reasons for refusing the original application were still valid.

She said: “The new application states that it has always been on hard-standing. That is factually untrue.”

She complained that the store was too high as it is only 4m away from her property.

Emily Karau, conservation and design officer at South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, agrees.

In a report, she says: “As before, the height of the outbuilding should be reduced to sit equal to or below the boundary wall. This would serve to preserve the contribution made by the setting of the listed building as experienced from within the conservation area, in particular from Queen’s Street Mews, and the character and appearance of the designated conservation area.

“Clear justification for an outbuilding has not been provided and I am unclear why the opportunity was not taken to incorporate storage space within the newly constructed extension.”

Michael Cleary, of North Quay Designs, of Abingdon, says he has made several alterations to the original plans.

In a letter to the district council, he says: “You will note that the white uPVC cladding complements the white uPVC rainwater pipes and the white uPVC window already on site.”

Mr Cleary says the revised drawings show the store would be reduced in height and clad in black-stained feather edge timber boarding, with a new black painted/ stained hardwood timber framed ledge and brace door.

“The shed sits on an area which for years has been hard standing so the footprint will not adversely affect the flood plan,” he says.

“The shed will be re-roofed with green felt roof with black uPVC rainwater goods and a new framed ledge and brace door.”

Mr Cleary admits that the store is “nothing like” what he would have designed as his previous designs had been ignored.

He says: “As a matter of note, anything I have designed on this project seems to have been ignored anyway but one can live in hope that the revised drawings will be adhered to.”

The district council will make a final decision by April 19.

Meanwhile, the restaurant has been refused permission for the new extraction system.

The owners have an externally mounted system on the roof but the district council said the equipment is an inappropriate addition to a listed building in the conservation area.

Cafe le Raj co-owner Abdus Salam did not respond to a request for comment.

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