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Gloucestershire Business News

Bid for Pump Room café to stay

The Cheltenham Trust has gone back to Cheltenham Borough Council to seek planning permission for its Pump Room café.

The Trust opened the café in an orangery structure on the side of Pittville Pump Room in summer 2020, under temporary permitted development rights during the pandemic.

The café quickly became popular with locals and visitors alike, helping to sustain the Pump Room itself.

The council removed the temporary development rights in autumn 2022, but the Trust pledged to keep the cafe open

Now it is seeking planning permission to trade for a further 20 months and has offered a range of options to offset concerns raised by the council and Historic England.

The options are:

• Option 1 - Leave structure in its current position and configuration but replace the roof with a clear option.

• Option 2 - Turn structure through 90 degrees, remove decking and move further to the north-west.

• Option 3 - Move structure into far north-west corner of the public fee-paying car park.

The Trust thinks Option 1 is the best way forward, taking into account the relative benefits and harm of each option.

The updated Heritage Assessment has identified that the café structure results in a 'low level of localised harm' to the character and appearance of the Central Conservation Area's Pittville character area, and a similarly low level of harm to views onto and from within Pittville Pump Room and Pittville Park.

Paragraph 202 of the National Planning Policy Framework, which sets out the Government's planning policies for England and how they are expected to be applied, states that where a development proposal will lead to less than substantial harm to a heritage asset, this harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal.

Cheltenham Trust's planning statement said keeping the café is critical to the operation and maintenance of Pittville Pump Room. It will ensure the continued viability of the Pump Room, as well as ensuring that the heritage and significance of the Grade I listed building is sustained and enhanced.

Total income for the Pump Room and café this year is expected to be £955,325. Of this, the café is expected to generate £470,000. Without this income, the Trust will be unable to cover the running costs of the Pump Room, leaving it running at a significant loss.

The planning application is now pending consideration.

Punchline said: "This café has brought vital funds into Pittville Pump Room and Cheltenham Trust, as well as being a pleasant place to meet with family and friends. Keeping it open seems to be a no-brainer. We hope Cheltenham Borough Council sees sense and allows it to keep trading."

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