Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Bakery plans to expand by taking over old scout hall

Bakery plans to expand by taking over old scout hall

THE owners of a bakery in Watlington want to expand their business with additional premises.

Alex Tait and his teenage daughter Kitty, who run the Orange Bakery in High Street, want to use the former scout hall behind the Watlington Club.

Kitty, 16, started the business in her parents’ kitchen at their home in Gorwell before she and her father opened the shop in May last year.

The pair say a larger bakery would also allow them to take on
apprentices.

The Watlington Club, a charity which owns the scout hall, has agreed to offer them a lease providing that South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, approves the conversion work.

In a letter with the application, Mr Tait says: “We currently bake everything from our house, which is a triumph of logistics over space.

“But to expand production we need to move to a bigger, more efficient workspace. We can’t meet demand at present and we are often approached about wholesale but at our current size this is impossible.

“A larger bakery would also enable us to take on apprentices, either from the Government’s Kickstart scheme or ex-prisoners working with the Prison Service (these are discussions currently in progress).

“We would also be able to provide local employment in terms of shop work/delivery.

“The scout hall would be perfect for us because it ties into our whole identity: local, sustainable, benefiting the community.”

Mr Tait said the bakery had been an “extraordinary” success.

He explained: “Our queues on a Saturday have become a local legend and we sell out every day as people file in to find out what new creations Kitty has developed. The bakery has also become a real hub in the town and a valued part of the town’s ecosystem.

“We buy much of our ingredients locally and we’re lucky to have an excellent butcher, greengrocer and sustainable refill shop in the town.”

DP Architects, of Watlington, carried out a survey of the scout hall and advised carrying out remedial work to address cracking and settlement on the north eastern gable.

Preparatory work to provide a water supply and drainage to the building has been carried out.

It says: “The building is large enough to provide preparation and working areas together with a range of ovens.”

There would be room for a commercial mixer, refrigeration, a sink and storage on the ground floor.

It is proposed to retain the existing first floor on the north gable bay where structural repair and strengthening work is in hand.

The rest of the ceiling would be removed to make it light and airy. There are also plans to introduce a mezzanine floor with a spiral staircase to provide some office space clear of the bakery level.

The bakery would operate from 6am to 8pm, five and a half days a week.

The architect adds: “It is even more important in the post-covid world to encourage and support local enterprise. The establishment of this bakery as a viable business will help to preserve and enhance the character and range of traditional shops and the vitality of the Watlington conservation area.”

The Watlington 2nd scout group, which used the building continuously for at least 50 years, has relocated to the pavilion off Shirburn Road as it is more suitable with space for exercise and activities outdoors.

The district council is due to make a decision by January 1.

• Kitty was a Sue Ryder women of achievement award nominee earlier this year.

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