Under-threat cycling cafe powers on after plans to turn it into housing are refused
THE owner of a popular cycling café in Ringwood says he will be staying in the saddle after controversial plans to turn the premises into a flat were refused.
Peter Moore, who runs Cafe Velo in Star Lane, said he had had “tremendous support” from the local community and had always had intentions of keeping the business going.
As reported in the A&T, landlord Peter Hayward, of Surereed Ltd, was pushing for Mr Moore to vacate the premises, claiming in his planning application to New Forest District Council that he was in rent arrears and had a “bleak outlook in making up the payments in the years to come”.
Mr Hayward proposed turning the building into a ground-floor three-bedroom flat with parking. He doubted there was demand from commercial tenants and said the plan would ensure the premises did not fall empty.
However, his application sparked 74 objections, and Ringwood Town Council also wanted the plans thrown out.
In its refusal notice, the district council said the introduction of ground-floor residential use within a main shopping area would compromise its “future viability and vitality”.
It continued: “Furthermore, no justification has been submitted with the application to demonstrate that the premises are unviable in their existing use.
“The considerable level of objection received to the proposed change of use from users of the existing service suggests that the cafe is a popular and viable town centre use.”
Mr Moore declined to comment on the outcome, but did confirm he would be keeping the business going.
Cafe Velo was named Cyclist Cafe of the Year in 2018 by national charity Cycling UK, and on the TripAdvisor website the eatery has 4.5 stars, with 80% of reviews rating it “excellent”. It was also top in Ringwood for “quick bites”.
The many supporters of the café said the premises had become a “community hub” for cyclists, and was also popular with young mothers.
One objector wrote: “This is not just a café, it’s a community that welcomes all ages and abilities or non-cyclists alike.”
Another said: “My concern is Ringwood’s heart is starting to beat a lot slower and if this planning application is accepted, a business that adds significantly to the health and wellbeing of the people of this town and beyond will be forced to close, causing redundancy and a significant community loss to the town.”