Council could face legal action after Stevenage restaurant plan approved with deciding vote


- Credit: Archant

A decision to approve plans to convert an historic building into a restaurant could spark legal action after the proposal was passed by a single vote last night (Monday).

Stevenage Borough Council’s planning and development committee met to discuss plans to turn 11 High Street – a Grade II-listed residential building – into bistro restaurant On The Green.

Despite an initial 6-6 tied vote, Cllr David Cullen, who chaired the meeting, submitted a casting vote in favour of the plans.

Prior to the meeting, residents raised concerns over limited parking, increased traffic, road safety, noise pollution and the presence of a bat colony within the building.

Protestor Richard Everett, who lives nearby, claims the council’s “botched and bungled” planning process leaves them open to judicial review – a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.

Speaking at the meeting prior to the decision, he said: “In their review the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings questioned whether the council should consider alterations to the 17th century walls between the living room and the dining room, as well as between the dining room and the study, appropriate. I argued that they should not be altered in any way and that in fact this sort of proposal is unfitting for such an important building – this alone should be justification enough to refuse the application.

“There is a very strict process to be followed regarding bats. Quite simply your officers have not followed the processes correctly and this puts you in a difficult position. To award planning permission in this case would therefore be contrary to the judgement and would leave the council open to judicial review proceedings.”

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A spokesman for Stevenage Borough Council said: “We are confident that we have followed the correct planning procedures.”

The applicant Marie Clinton, who wants to run the restaraunt as an independent family business with step-daughter Stacey, also spoke at the meeting.

She said: “Our vision is to deliver modern British cuisine using fresh, seasonal and locally-sourced produce where possible, and to become a destination, special occasion venue which isn’t stuffy, has great service, and which doesn’t break the bank.

“While Stevenage Old Town is well served with good quality independent Asian and Indian restaurants, there is no independent restaurant offering the type of food we are passionate about.

“We know the objectors are equally as passionate about preserving the status quo and absolutely understand their disappointment at the decision of the planning committee and their decision to explore judicial review.”