Late-night cafe plans: residents fear concerns are going unheeded

June 25 2018

A GROUP of Bishopston residents concerned about the proposed late-night opening hours of a new café on Gloucester Road, have had a response from Bristol City Council’s planning enforcement team.

As reported in Bishopston Voice, in March a notification of prior approval was submitted to Bristol City Council to turn 164 Gloucester Road, a former bric-a-brac shop called BS7 Emporium, into a café. 

Within the notice, it was stated that the café will have an outdoor patio area and that the premises could possibly be open from 10am until 2.30am, seven days a week. Properties on Hatherley Road are adjacent to the café site, and neighbours living on this road have concerns about possible smoking fumes or late night noise, and also that the café is overlooked by a residential care home. 

Despite over 60 complaints being received, the original notification was subsequently withdrawn on May 16 and a new notification for flexible use put in to change an A1 shop to an A3 café/restaurant. This was accepted the same day under the central government’s General Permitted Development Order 2015. 

In response to this, residents called on Bristol City Council’s planning enforcement team to look into the matter. In a email that was sent to the group on June 13, a member of the planning enforcement team confirmed that site inspections and detailed discussions with the prospective occupier had been undertaken, that other than a deck area no other external extensions or alterations have been made to the property or the shop front and that the outdoor space will not be used by customers once the café is open. They also stated that “we have not identified any breaches of planning control and have been given certain assurances” and that they have closed their planning enforcement case as a result. If further reports are received in the future, then the planning authority can consider setting up a second case.

However, concerns regarding opening hours, noise and parking have yet to be addressed, which has left the group of residents feeling frustrated.

Adam Platt lives on Hatherley Road and is also the owner of two apartments that overlook 164 Gloucester Road. Speaking on behalf of residents, he said: “Opening seven days per week from 10am to 2.30am is objected to by almost everyone on the grounds of noise and light pollution, parking congestion and odours. There are neighbours next to the site with children and others overlooking the premises, plus residences for older people.

“Parking in the area is already such that there are risks that emergency vehicle access may be restricted. The residential centre is just behind the premises and several need disability access as well as emergency calls by ambulances.

“We urge the Licensing Authority require that the premises should only be open up to 5pm or 6pm in line with the previous use of the premises as a shop, given the location: this is a mainly residential stretch of Gloucester Road, with residential side streets. There are ample other cafe and entertainment facilities along other sections of Gloucester Road.”

Addressing the concerns of local residents, Martin Fodor, Green Party Councillor for Redland Ward said: “Residents are rightly worried by a proposed development that seems to be trying to create a late night venue using a garden backing on to several homes. 

“The officer’s enforcement report, lists what is within the scope of the government’s ‘permitted development’ and how they have to take steps to regularise any outdoor changes at the site. It clearly explains the need for licensing if certain activities take place there, like use of music.

“If the developer doesn’t get the necessary approvals as set out they need to be aware that we’ll support a robust enforcement process. We share the residents’ concerns about a late night cafe being operated but if this is allowed then the council’s hands are tied. I do hope there will be a respectful relationship between the cafe manager and the neighbours so any issues can be resolved and tensions can be minimised. We don’t want to see empty units along Gloucester Road but we do want activities to fit with the community.”