Canopy to come down after Cafe Black loses planning battle

Cafe Black joint owner Jim Harding
Cafe Black joint owner Jim Harding
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THE owners of a cafe say they will remove the canopy at the centre of a long-running argument after losing an appeal to keep it.

Jim Harding and Hannah Darby, who own Cafe Black in High Street, Stamford, appealed to the Planning Inspectorate after they were refused planning permission to keep the canopy on the Grade II listed building.

Mr Harding appealed against the refusal and they both appealed against an enforcement notice issued by South Kesteven District Council asking them to remove the canopy. But the inspectorate upheld the decision by South Kesteven District Council.

Mr Harding said he was disappointed and plans to take down the canopy, which cost £8,000, by the end of the month.

He said: “We hoped the appeal inspector would see sense because people do like to sit outside.

“It is very disappointing that it’s been refused because it has been a waste of money to put it up and it will cost us money to take it down.”

Mr Harding said that “fantastic support” from the cafe’s customers had kept the pair going.

He said: “This debate hasn’t affected our customer base and it makes it all worthwhile when you have got a cafe packed full of customers.”

Planning inspector Katie Peerless, who visited the cafe on December 5, said when refusing the appeals that the box holding the canopy “appeared clumsy and unduly prominent”.

She said parasols above the tables provided adequate shelter for customers and that the canopy box harmed “the architectural character of the listed building”.

Cafe Black opened in September, 2009 in the former Max Spielmann photo shop and the row with council officials started in December, 2009, when Mr Harding and Miss Darby were told they didn’t have planning permission for the canopy or the outdoor seating.

They applied for retrospective permission to keep it and 1,500 customers signed a petition backing the application.

In June 2010, the cafe closed for two days after being threatened with legal action by Lincolnshire County Council if the outside seating area and canopy were not removed.

The outside seating was approved in June, 2010, but the canopy was refused in February last year after district council planning officers, Stamford Town Council, Lincolnshire County Council, Stamford Civic Society and English Heritage all objected saying it was “visually intrusive”

They did not object to the outside seating area.