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Popular Knowl Hill cafe may go out of business due to 'discriminatory' planning dispute

George Roberts

WARREN ROW 131664-6

Velolife owner Lee Goodwin.

The future of a cafe popular with cyclists hangs in the balance due to an issue with planning permission.

Under planning rules, Velolife, a cafe and cycle workshop in Warren Row Road, is not allowed to have ‘cycle meets’ starting or finishing at its premises.

According to owner Lee Goodwin, the council has issued an injunction preventing any cyclist groups from going to the cafe.

Lee says this could put Velolife out of business.

He said: “You may come in a helicopter, in a car or on foot but not on a bike. It’s gross discrimination towards cyclists.

“Even if me, my wife and kids were to cycle there it wouldn’t be allowed.

“The cafe will close. I can’t continue to trade without that business – this is a small village.”

In October 2015, Velolife failed to secure planning permission to use its premises as a cafe, cycle meet place, cycle repair facility and for retail use.

However, after appealing this decision, the cafe was allowed to operate as it had been, but cyclist meets were still prohibited.

According to an independent inspector, this was due to the impact it had on neighbouring properties.

In a Facebook post, the cafe has asked customers not to have cycle meets at the cafe, warning that its future ‘hangs in the balance’.

Lee is trying to fight against the injunction, but with a court date not set until November, he does not expect to have a business left to defend come the autumn.

He added: “It’s been arguably the most stressful time of my life, I have a young family and a wife.

“And it’s not only myself and my family, I have four or five members of staff that live in the borough that this will impact.”

A spokesman from the Royal Borough said: "Whether the site could be used for cycle meets was considered by an independent inspector on behalf of the Planning Inspectorate who found the impact on neighbouring properties would not be acceptable."

You can view the full Planning Inspectorate decision here

UPDATE: Monday, August 5. 9:08am

A spokeswoman from the Royal Borough added: "The planning inspector has made it clear that groups of cyclists meeting outside Velolife café cause a nuisance to nearby residents. 

"The appeal decision has concluded that the lawful use of the site is as a café with cycle repair.  

"In this decision the planning inspector upheld and varied  the enforcement notice and deemed that cyclist meets should not take place at the café but that cyclists are still welcome to use the café facilities but must not congregate outside.”

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