Promenade marquees must go, planning inspector rules
By David Wood | 18th August 2023
Lucky Onion Group has lost its fight to retain controversial temporary marquees at 131 Promenade, Cheltenham.
The company appealed against Cheltenham Borough Council's decision to refuse planning and listed building consent for the temporary structures outside the popular bar at 125-133 Promenade.
The structures were introduced during the pandemic, when Cheltenham Borough Council allowed temporary structures outside hospitality venues in the town without the need for planning permission, to help boost footfall and capacity.
In October 2022, the council told Lucky Onion, owned by Superdry founder and CEO Julian Dunkerton, that the structures had to go, but it appealed against the decision, asking for them to be retained for another two years.
Now planning inspector Paul Martinson has dismissed the appeal, saying: "The main issue is the effect of retaining the marquees for a further two years on the special interest of the adjacent Grade II* buildings, with particular regard to setting, and whether their retention for this period would preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Cheltenham Central Conservation Area.
He added: "The marquees have become a prominent and incongruous feature of the streetscene along Promenade and due to their scale, colour and form are visible for much of its length.
"They are also prominent in views from Imperial Gardens. The marquees intrude into the space adjacent to the street trees, imposing upon them, unbalancing the symmetry of the avenue in views looking down Promenade from the Queens Hotel and adversely affecting the spacious, verdant character of the Conservation Area as a whole.
"I accept that the economic climate has changed since the buildings were developed into their current uses by the appellant, and that these are challenging times for such businesses. However, the original investment in the buildings does not appear to have required provision of substantial areas of undercover dining areas and these only became necessary in order for the business to survive during the restrictions in place during Covid-19.
"On the basis of the evidence before me, I am therefore not convinced that the marquees are fundamental to maintaining the buildings' optimum viable use."
Cheltenham Civic Society had issued an objection to the planning appeal to retain the marquees. There was a mixed response online to the news of the appeal being dismissed.
One writer, Fiona, said: "So sorry to disagree but I think they are fun and help keep Cheltenham vibrant. Lots of permanent structures are more offensive." However, another post described them as an "eyesore".
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