TAKEAWAY APPEAL: Somerset woman battling to transform garden store
A Somerset woman is fighting a legal battle to turn part of her property in the Quantock Hills into a takeaway.
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 her application in November 2020, arguing it would harm the natural landscape and was too far from existing amenities.
Ms Lyons has now filed an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate, meaning this decision could be overruled in a matter of months.
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 in November:
- 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 in a location “where there are no local services, and is away from public transport”, meaning visitors would be reliant on cars to use the business
Ms Lyons said the business would operate between 9:30am and 3pm, and there would be no exterior lighting to undermine the natural beauty of the surrounding area.
She has also promised to provide an additional car parking space on-site, as well as a cycle rack and outside seating for her customers.
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.
“The Pines Cafe burned down, The Rising Sun Inn in West Bagborough is shut and for sale, and The Travellers’ Rest has shut and removed its signage – and I suspect has changed to a residential property.
“I do not believe that the proposed development would impact on traffic levels in the area. It is unlikely that customers will make a journey to the Quantocks for a cup of tea and a sandwich.”
Due to ongoing restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, a decision on the site is likely to be taken by written representations rather than a formal public inquiry.
The Planning Inspectorate is expected to publish its ruling later in the year.
Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter
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