Peterborough City Council’s planning committee has approved plans for the ‘Lovely Little Tea Rooms’ on the Grade II listed Thorney ‘Model Estate’.
Members of the Planning & Environmental Protection Committee gave their approval at a meeting on Tuesday in spite of objections that commercial use of the Grade II listed premises would be inappropriate and there was no provision for parking.
Nicholas Harding, Peterborough City Council head of development and construction, explained there was no off-street parking close by, with the four bays immediately outside the building only allowing a 30 minute maximum stay.
He added: “The application site is now one of a series of 14 terraced houses, part of the 7th Duke of Bedford’s ‘Model Agricultural Village’, built in 1854.
“Currently it is residential but was originally built with a commercial frontage having apartments on the ground and first floors.
“The proposal is to revert the property to its former commercial frontage.
“There would be a tea rooms with 24 covers within the main property, and additionally 26 covers in the rear garden area leading through to converted garages.
“Planning officers recommend members refuse the application on the grounds the business is inappropriate for an area already well served with a food store at one end of the terrace, a pub selling tea and food next to that, and a Chinese takeaway/fish and chip shop at the other end of the terrace.
“Objections have also been raised about parking in the area, and the effect of noise on neighbours.”
Speaking on behalf of the application, Cllr Steve Allen (Conservative, Eye Thorney & Newborough Ward) said: “I am pleased to support the ‘Lovely Little Tea Rooms’ application because I genuinely believe that it is needed in the area.
“Tourists come from miles around to visit the ‘Model Agricultural Village’, and anything that can improve customer experience has my support.
“When built it was the intention of the original designers that these properties have commercial frontages, so I see no reason why we should object 160 years later.
“Yes there is limited parking, but there are car parks nearby. I feel the objections based on noise can be addressed with acoustic fencing and this is hardly a nightclub we are talking about – it is a tea rooms with minimal noise intrusion.
“I think the ‘Lovely Little Tea Rooms’ will add to the beating heart of Thorney village providing much needed toilet facilities and a commercial outlet to serve the many visitors who want to come here.”
Also speaking on behalf of the application was parish councillor John Bartlett, who said: “These tea rooms will be well supported and used by locals and visitors alike.
“The ‘garages’ at the rear are nothing more than glorified sheds at the moment, so any improvement there can only be a positive thing.
“I understand the objections on the grounds that this is a Grade II listed building, but we must remember that it was once a commercial premises.”
Chairman of the committee Cllr Chris Harper (Conservative, Stanground South) summed up by saying: “I think in this instance we should go against the recommendations of council officers and approve this application.
“I appreciate the objections raised, but I do believe these tea rooms will enhance the village of Thorney, providing employment for seven local persons and a much needed commercial enterprise for visitors.”
Councillors voted by a majority to approve the application.