Borough councillors have been called on to decide whether a cafe can continue to operate in Stony Stratford’s historic high street.
Town councillors have objected to Yakup Zemem being able to continue to operate Caffe Latte, at 20 High Street, saying that they want a shop instead, and there are already too many cafes in the area.
But next Thursday’s (September 19) meeting of the Development Control Panel will be told that that members of the public have written to Milton Keynes Council in support of the plan.
The council’s enforcement team have the cafe in their sights and a notice has been served for unauthorised advertising. But action against the operation as an unauthorised change of use has been confined to investigation only at this stage. It had formerly been a butcher’s shop.
The owner of the building, Malcolm Wilson, of Stony Stratford, has said he supports the change of use from A1 retail to A3 hot food.
Lynne Compton, the clerk of Stony Stratford Town Council has told MK Council that the change of use is contrary to planning policy.
She wrote: “The town council is concerned about the gradual erosion of the retail offer which, if allowed to continue unchecked, will ultimately undermine the viability of the High Street.
“The town already benefits from at least six A3 outlets and a number of coffee/sandwich shops which also serve hot food. As such we would expect this application to be refused, and the matter dealt by Development Control Committee.”
But others in Stony Stratford have spoken in support of the plan which seeks retrospective planning permission.
Catherine Wilson, who has the same address as the building’s owner, said: “I don’t see any problem with a change of use. If no one wanted to open an A1 rated business on the premises, I believe it is far better to amend the use and have the building occupied.”
She praised the cafe, saying: “Independent businesses are something that we pride ourselves on in Stony Stratford and the owners have made a great job with their signage and inviting interior.
“I understand that there is a first successful cafe in Newport Pagnell, so it is great to see a couple expanding their business.”
And Mr Zemem has told the council: “Having spoken to local people and businesses the general consensus is that opening this business will in fact improve the high street and offer something which is not currently available.”
Another cafe customer, Anna Mccarthy-Birch, said: “Cafe Latte is a well presented, welcoming, and enjoyable cafe to visit. I live in Stony and I have also I have a business in Stony, its great to see what was an empty shop now being used so I would very much like to see them granted the A3 use.”
Planning officer Lakeisha Peacock has recommended that permission be granted.
In her report to the Development Control Panel, she says: “The proposal is found to be in accordance with relevant development plan policies and it is therefore recommended that planning permission is granted subject to conditions.”
The Development Control Panel will meet at Milton Keynes Council offices, in Saxon Gate East, from 7pm on Thursday, September 19. It is a meeting open to the public.