Bid to remove parking bays in favour of outdoor seating denied at acclaimed restaurant

  Posted: 07.06.21 at 11:42 by Deborah Price

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A BID by an Old Stevenage restaurant to permanently remove three parking bays so the space could be used for outdoor seating has been turned down.

The bays – outside Misya Meze and Grill, on High Street – have been temporarily closed in recent months.

And in their place there has been decking to allow for tables and chairs, in line with temporary relaxations for Covid.

But bosses at Misya Meze and Grill applied for a permanent change of use – so the bays in front of the premises could be used for restaurant seating into the future.

The restaurant would still have needed further permission for the placement of tables and chair from highways bosses.

But a meeting of Stevenage Borough Council’s planning and development committee have turned down the ‘change of use’ planning application.

At the meeting, it was reported to the committee that 33 local residents had objected to the application – with nine writing-in to show support.

Those in favour had suggested that the seating would be a ‘nice addition’, would ‘enhance’ the ‘Old Town’ and that support for hospitality businesses was needed.

But those against the application pointed to the ‘historical importance’ of the bays within the conservation area and suggested that it was ‘unreasonable’ to expect older people to park in Primett Road and walk to the shops.

It was also suggested that the loss of parking spaces would impact on non-hospitality businesses – and that if people were unable to park close to High Street they would shop elsewhere.

Others feared that the move would displace parking to surrounding streets and would set a precedent for other businesses.

An objection was also received from the Stevenage Old Town Business and Community Partnership, who were concerned about the precedent it may set.

Officers from the council had initially recommended the application for approval.

But it was considered by the committee after being ‘called-in’ by Cllr Jody Hanafin.

In resolving to refuse the application, councillors agreed that the change of use would create an “unacceptable precedent”, resulting in significant loss of key parking facilities.

As a result they said it would “cause significant harm to the vitality and viability of established businesses in the Old Town”.

And they said the proposal was “premature” without an agreed outdoor seating approach.

Following the meeting, the council’s executive member for environment and planning Cllr John Gardner said: “Misya Meze & Grill restaurant’s planning application for change of use of a permanent parking bay for outdoor eating in Old Town was unsuccessful.

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