A Sunderland café’s bid to continue offering a hot food takeaway service has been refused by city development chiefs over fears about obesity and impacts on neighbours.
Earlier this year, Sunderland City Council’s planning department received an application for Cole Kitchen at the Side Cottage on St George’s Terrace in Roker.
This included a bid for the business to be permanently classed as a hot food takeaway operating between the hours of 9am-3pm, seven days a week.
According to a design and access statement submitted with the plans, the business had been operating as a hot food takeaway “under the Coronavirus Regulations successfully for the past two years”.
Due to the legislation being withdrawn, Cole Kitchen lodged a retrospective planning application to “formalise the business as a hot food takeaway”.
After considering the application and assessing it against planning policies, Sunderland City Council’s planning department refused it on December 19, 2022.
The main reasons for refusal included the plans clashing with policies in the council’s Core Strategy and Development Plan (CSDP), or local plan.
This included Cole Kitchen being located in a ward (St Peter’s) where the obesity level of year six pupils is higher than 21%, with council planners arguing the hot food takeaway would “not support or improve the health and wellbeing of local communities”.
In addition, council planners said the hot food takeaway use would have a “unacceptable impact on the amenity of the area and the local environment by virtue of the generation of noise, disturbance and odour”.
This included the use causing “significant harm to the amenity of neighbouring residents” due to “increased comings and goings on site from customer collection”.
The refusal decision, which Cole Kitchen bosses intend to appeal, is set out in a council report published on Sunderland City Council’s website.
Council planners argued the hot food takeaway, and activity it generates, would be “significantly more intrusive than that associated with the previous café use”.
The council’s environmental health team also asked the applicant to provide information to show that the “installation of the new extraction system and the operation of the hot food takeaway would not cause a significant adverse impact to nearby residential premises, particularly with regard to odour”.
Correspondence between the applicant’s agent and the council, referenced in the council decision report, suggested “issues relating to noise and odour could be overcome” and that extra information would be provided to the local authority.
However a council decision report said a deadline had been set for the submission of this detail but that no information was provided.
Elsewhere in the council report, it was noted that the applicant’s agent said operating hours (9am-3pm) would “limit any impact on neighbouring properties” and year six children.
It was also argued by the applicant’s agent that the year six obesity figure of 21.3% for St Peter’s ward was a “marginal increase” above the council’s policy threshold of 21%.
However council planners said the planning authority applies the thresholds within the CSDP policy “rigorously” and that “any exceedance of a threshold is treated as representing a failure to comply”.
Development chiefs also stressed the policy looks at the “impact of hot food takeaways on the health of all of the city’s residents and the childhood obesity figures within wards are an indicator of this”.
According to the Cole Kitchen Facebook page, the eatery offers breakfast sandwiches, speciality coffee and “good vibes to take away”.
Business bosses have confirmed they plan to challenge the council’s refusal decision by lodging an appeal with the national Planning Inspectorate.
A statement from Cole Kitchen said: “We do plan to appeal the decision.
“During the pandemic we adapted our business when only takeaway service was allowed.
“We did this to keep us afloat and keep our staff employed. Due to the positive response from customers, we’d like to continue if at all possible.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed, but if we have to adapt again, we will.
“We’ve been in the space for five years and feel we are part of the community.”