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Gloucestershire Business News

Council turns down Lucky Onion outdoor dining

Cheltenham Borough Council has said outdoor dining structures at 131 Promenade have to go.

The planning committee decided that temporary structures at the popular venue, installed to help sustain the business during Covid restrictions, can't stay for another two years.

The marquees in front of the restaurant (which encompasses numbers 125 to 133 Promenade) were installed in June and October 2020.

They were originally constructed by 131 owner, Lucky Onion Group, without planning permission but with the knowledge of the council, when planning enforcement was relaxed to address social distancing concerns during the pandemic.

On September 30 this year, the council wrote to all businesses which had installed temporary structures to ask them to remove them - or apply for planning permission to keep them.

In a report to the planning committee, Historic England said: "Historic England considers that the structures do cause a degree of harm to the significance of the designated heritage assets.

"Although physically detached from the buildings, their scale, design and density do have a detrimental visual impact on the Grade II villas, as they substantially screen off the buildings both in close up and long views.

"The temporary structures do not respond to the architectural character of the buildings they serve."

In applying for planning permission to keep the marquees, Lucky Onion said the external catering facilities have enabled it to continue trading over last two years at a 'reasonable level... to ensure a degree of viability', but not to pre-Covid levels.

It said that, since the pandemic, customers have now come to expect to be able to use outdoor space.

Importantly, it said the structures have helped the business to adapt to challenging and evolving social and economic circumstances, whilst also benefitting the wider economic activity of Cheltenham.

Yet, despite this, Cheltenham Borough Council still turned down the planning application.

Punchline said: "This is pure madness. It goes to show how out of touch with business Cheltenham Borough Council planning is. Never before has the hospitality sector been under so much pressure.

"Here we have a business that has grown and thrived during the pandemic and brought money into the town centre and now the council wants to dismantle it. It's a crazy decision.

"Owner Julian Dunkerton has invested in the high street and town and created jobs for local people. The council shouldn't bite the hand that feeds it."

Earlier this year, a number of the Lucky Onion's other pubs were sold to Young's Brewery. 

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