Restaurant's permanent outdoor seating bid rejected

Seating area outside Misya Turkish restaurant in Stevenage Old Town

Planning permission to make temporary seating outside Misya Meze & Grill in Stevenage High Street permanent has been rejected - Credit: Archant

A bid by a restaurant in Stevenage Old Town to permanently remove three parking bays so the space could be used for outdoor seating has been turned down.

The bays – outside Misya Meze & Grill on High Street – have been temporarily closed in recent months to allow for tables and chairs on decking, in line with temporary relaxations due to COVID-19.

Bosses at Misya Meze & Grill applied for a permanent change of use, so the bays could be used for restaurant seating into the future.

The restaurant would still have needed further permission for the placement of tables and chair from highways bosses, but Stevenage Borough Council’s planning and development committee rejected the plans at the first hurdle.

Residents in favour of the plans had suggested the seating would be a nice addition to enhance the Old Town, and that support for hospitality businesses was needed.

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But some people feared the loss of parking spaces would impact on non-hospitality businesses, and people unable to park close to the High Street would shop elsewhere.

There were also concerns the move would displace parking to surrounding streets and would set a precedent for other businesses.

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An objection was also received from the Stevenage Old Town Business and Community Partnership, which was concerned about the precedent it may set.

Council officers had recommended the application for approval, but it was considered by the committee after being called-in by Councillor Jody Hanafin.

Councillors agreed the change of use would create an “unacceptable precedent”, resulting in significant loss of key parking facilities.

As a result they said it would “cause significant harm to the vitality and viability of established businesses in the Old Town”.

They also said the proposal was “premature” without an agreed outdoor seating approach.

Councillor John Gardner, executive member for environment and planning, said: “Misya Meze & Grill restaurant’s planning application for change of use of a permanent parking bay for outdoor eating in Old Town was unsuccessful.

“We are working with the owners to provide feedback and constructively support them with any future changes to their successful  business.”

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