Somerset woman gets green light for Quantock Hills takeaway

Written by on June 14, 2021

A SOMERSET woman can serve takeaway food from her home in the Quantock Hills after winning a legal battle against the district council.

Michelle Lyons applied for planning permission to modify a garden storage building at Park End Lodge, between the villages of Cothelstone and West Bagborough, into a takeaway outlet.

Somerset West and Taunton Council refused Ms Lyons permission in November 2020, arguing it would harm the natural landscape and was too far from existing amenities.

The Planning Inspectorate has now overturned the council’s ruling – meaning visitors to the area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) will soon have somewhere to stop and enjoy a cup of tea and a sandwich.

The property lies on a junction near the base of Cothelstone Hill, a popular walking spot just under 20 minutes’ drive from Taunton town centre.

The council refused permission on three specific grounds:

The development was outside of the settlement boundary for either village, with the applicant “failing to demonstrate that an increase in visitor numbers would not harm the natural and man-made heritage” in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The change of use would have “an adverse impact” on the existing appearance of West Bagborough Lane

The business is in a location “where there are no local services, and is away from public transport”, meaning visitors would rely on cars to use the business

Planning inspector Matthew Jones visited the site on May 5, publishing his final report before a meeting of the council’s planning committee on Thursday (June 10).

Bridgwater Mercury: The Garden Store At Park End Lodge In The Quantock Hills Where The Takeaway Will Be Housed. CREDIT: Google Maps. Free to use for all BBC wire partners.

He reasoned the new takeaway would operate on such a small scale that it was unlikely to cause significant disruption to residents and the local road network.

He said: “The operation would be of a very small scale. As such, in practice it is most likely to be little more than a roadside convenience for people already with reason to be in the vicinity, rather than act as a draw for any significant increase in visitor pressure.

“Indeed, I gather from interested parties that a previous café in the area has been lost through fire.

“On this basis, it appears probable that the outlet would meet an existing locational demand and may well reduce the incentive for people to travel further afield for food and drink.”

The Pines Cafe near Broomfield was badly damaged by fire in August 2019, while Ms Lyons claims the two nearest pubs – The Rising Sun Inn and The Travellers’ Rest – both remain closed.

Mr Jones added: “The site is already man-made and domestic in character, and much of the store and surrounding space are highly screened by Park End Lodge’s roadside boundary hedge bank.

“It is logical, given that the outlet would provide takeaway products, that customers would not spend prolonged periods on site.

“On this basis, the site is of an adequate size to accommodate necessary on-site parking for motor vehicles and bicycle storage, the provision of which would also ensure that parking along the adjacent highway could be all but avoided.

“Taking all matters raised into account, I conclude that the appeal should be allowed.”

Ms Lyons said the business would operate between 9am and 3:30pm daily, with trade being geared towards walkers, cyclists and equestrians.

Speaking in March, she said: “I believe my proposed development will be of benefit to a rural area where there are few facilities for visitors to the Quantocks.

“I will provide table,seating and a waste bin to encourage walkers and cyclists to consume food and drinks on-site.

“The proposed development is aimed at walkers, cyclists and riders who are currently not catered for due to the loss of three local businesses.”

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