I'm furious after the council ordered me to tear down the cafe on my driveway – I'll lose so many customers | The Sun

A SMALL business owner has been left furious after the council ordered her to tear down the cafe on her driveway – which she says will see her lose customers.

Javeria Imaan, 44, opened a cafe in her garage just before the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, and extended it to give customers more outdoor space in the months that followed.

At the time of construction national planning rules were more relaxed for hospitality venues, allowing them to meet pandemic restrictions.

However, Javeria recently had to apply for planning permission for the extension on her Leicestershire driveway – and has now been told by the council that it must go.

She now fears she will lose customers of her small, two-year-old business Cafe @281.

Javeria first created a small pergola on her driveway to allow for outdoor seating and later built it into a sturdier structure, which acted as an extension to the cafe.

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In recent months she applied for retrospective planning permission from Oadby and Wigston Borough Council.

And, to her shock, planning officers rejected the extension on the grounds that it is "out of keeping" with the surrounding area.

The officers also said it "causes harm to highway safety" as it impedes visibility for both pedestrians and drivers.

Javeria told Leicestershire Live: "We didn't think that there would be an issue with it.

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"We built it and obviously told we have to apply for retrospective planning which we did but I was shocked really, I didn't expect it to be refused."

She added: "The reasons for refusal also seem a bit unfair. It's not like this is just an area of only houses.

"We're surrounded by other businesses. People rely on this space and a lot of people are still wanting to sit outdoors because they're still anxious about Covid-19."

Adrian Thorpe, head of the built environment at Oadby & Wigston Borough Council, said: “We want to be supportive of local businesses looking to expand in the right circumstances.

"However, there were justified concerns with this planning application which led to its refusal.

"These related to its size, prominence, detriment to the area’s character, impact on neighbouring residential properties and pedestrian and highways safety which also resulted in an objection from the local Highways Authority.

"The borough council must conform to national and local policy and ensure that its decisions are robust and consistent.

“Our officers would be happy to discuss potential alternative options with the applicant.”

There were justified concerns with this planning application which led to its refusal.

Along with Javeria, some of her customers disagreed with the decision, too.

Local Andrew Howes, 79, said he felt the council's reasons were not "well-founded" and said it should reconsider.

Andrew told LeicesershireLive: "I'm a little disappointed because I discovered it three or four months ago.

"It's very handy I've met some lovely people in here and I pop in quite regularly. I think it's a good asset to the area."

Aysha Iqbal, 30, moved to the area around a year ago and said Wingston has become a home to her – and the cafe has played its part in that.

Aysha said: "By coming here I've met so many people and it's definitely become a bit of a community hub for me.

"If we lost the front it would mean fewer people could come in here and enjoy themselves and have a space where they can connect with local people, get to know what's going on and just enjoy a coffee and a nice bit of cake."

I think it's a good asset to the area.

Two other customers, who were not named, said they too thought the cafe – and its extension – were good for the area.

One of them, who regularly visits with her pooch Betsy, said most other cafes nearby are not dog friendly.

She said: "People like to sit outside in the extension with the dogs so to me that's invaluable."

Determined to keep fighting, Javeria said she would be appealing the council's decision – with the backing of her customers.

If you're looking to change up your home there are some additions you can make without planning permission, but failing to check – and falling foul of the the rules – can cost you dearly.

It's your responsibility to get approval before you start work on it, if it doesn't meet the regulations you may be forced to pay to demolish it, and it could affect your house sale should you choose to move.

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If you apply for planning permission, and it is refused by your council for reasons you don't agree with – like Javeria's was – you can appeal it.

You can read more about the process here.

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