Thursday, 23 September 2021

Marina owner wants cafe in former offices

THE owner of a Wargrave marina wants to open a café.

Lisa Anacora, who runs Val Wyatt Marine in Willow Lane, has applied for planning permission to change the use of the company’s former offices.

She wants to create a coffee shop for customers and residents with up to 45 seats inside and additional tables outside on the riverbank.

The marina business operated from the building until 2015, when the offices moved to a houseboat moored elsewhere on the site.

The building was then used as a delicatessen, the Local Larder, but this was forced to close because of enforcement action by Wokingham Borough Council as the land is in the green belt.

Miss Anacora and former director Ben Caddick were prosecuted for unlawful use of the houseboat as it replaced an historic timber houseboat. They were ordered to pay £18,000 for “demolishing” the old boathouse by moving it to another part of the site without permission.

The pair appealed the decision, saying the boathouse not only served as their offices but also protected their business from flooding, and were granted planning permission last year.

Miss Anacora said the café would be open from 10am to 5pm seven days a week, although the hours could be reduced during the winter months. There would be no changes to the exterior of the building, while all tables could be fitted with facilities for visitors to use electronic devices such as laptops.

One extra member of staff would be required.

Miss Anacora said: “It’s a very small area in our old boat sales reception.

“The purpose is very low-key, somewhere for customers to pop in as a central hub and get tea and cake. Being where we are, we’d also like to expand into the community.

“We can have 150 boats down here at any time with the owners and their families and it’s a nice area for them to sit and have a cup of tea.”

The café would serve drinks and cakes, although extra items such as sandwiches could be introduced in future.

Miss Anacora said: “We will be focusing on quality of food, simple offerings that are locally made.”

Alison Hussey, who ran the Local Larder, was issued with an enforcement notice in late 2015 for using the premises without permission and told she would have to close by July 2016.

She lodged an appeal but later withdrew this, saying she couldn’t afford the legal costs. She moved out of the premises in January last year.

Ms Hussey founded the business in 2014 and had a previous outlet elsewhere at the marina. It sold local produce from more than 50 suppliers and also hosted regular food swap events.

In 2016 the Local Larder was named best deli in Berkshire in the Muddy Stilettos Awards, winning more than 36 per cent of the vote.

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