STOP EXPLOITATION OF THE OPEN PLANNING PROCESS. SUPPORT THE OPENING OF BEAUTY & THE BISTRO
This petition made change with 287 supporters!
We are a local mother and daughter team originally from Stoke on Trent who are planning to invest substantially to launch a unique state-of-the-art beauty salon complemented by a friendly, family bistro. Stoke on Trent City Council have refused to support our application for the licensed bar and bistro (hence our withdrawal). We will shortly be submitting a new application for ‘A3/A4’ permission and we were hoping to enlist your support by establishing whether there is indeed local support/demand for the opening of our ‘Beauty and The Bistro.’ This would bring much-needed employment to local residents and a community service to a town that “still faces significant economic and social difficulties.” (Local Development Framework, Newcastle and Stoke on Trent Core Spatial Strategy 2006-2026 Section 3.45).
Sadly, we believe that this planning decision has been brought about by exploitation of the open planning and public objection process.
FOR FULL DETAILS PLEASE READ BELOW (approx. 1,500 words)
If you would like to see our Beauty and The Bistro open and feel that the area (or you) would benefit from a beauty centre and bistro, we would be enormously grateful if you would sign this petition (by typing your name, address and email) and then share it amongst your friends and neighbours.
Furthermore, we would very much appreciate it if you could leave any comments you would like to make in the comments box.
To make a more informed decision on whether you would like to sign the petition or not, please view our website www.thebeautyquarters.com for more information.
With our very many thanks for your time, interest and support - we do very much appreciate it.
Debbie and Jessica Tams
**** F U L L D E T A I L S ****
“The Quarters” (The Beauty Quarters and The Bistro Quarters) will be operating from Brunswick House, 499 Etruria Road, Basford, Stoke on Trent ST4 6JR on the outskirts of Newcastle, near to the old Queens at Basford, the New Vic Theatre and next door to the former Haydon House Hotel.
We propose to offer beauty packages which include breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea & dinner, together with providing a meeting place for business colleagues, families, couples or friends to enjoy quality food and drinks at affordable prices. The beauty salon and skin clinic will offer an array of treatments and will include a private Jacuzzi, mood lighting and a luxury nail bar.
We have already gained planning permission for change of use to a beauty salon but given that the Beauty AND The Bistro element is the underpinning central theme to our business, it is essential that we provide our beauty clients the opportunity to relax and enjoy such complements as food and wine with their treatments.
Since we acquired Brunswick House and submitted our original planning application, we have faced staggeringly vehement opposition originating from two neighbours who were the former owners and operators of the Haydon House Hotel - Restaurant and Bar for 30 years, next door and quite literally 9yds from where our property stands.
We have always been strong supporters of local small business and are wholly confused as to why these neighbours (along with Stoke on Trent Planning) believe it to be acceptable for them to be permitted to operate their hotel, ‘award-winning’ restaurant, conference facilities and cocktail bar (open from 11am -11pm) but then subsequently launch a vicious, dogged campaign against us to prevent us from trading on a comparable basis – even though ours is on a much smaller scale.
It is our firm opinion that their 30+ different ‘concerns’ raised are not derived from any credible planning concerns. Their 'concerns' range from complaining about light pollution (from illuminating the cycle rack), air quality, noise, smells, parking chaos, attraction of ‘undesirables’ (e.g. drug addicts and youths), the smell of cigarette smoke, blocking emergency vehicles and even “causing a distraction on a busy main road particularly when the sun is low.” One or two genuine worries might have been believable (and duly dealt with) but this excessive amount is clearly indicative of an ulterior motive.
Their overwhelming number of letters, e-mails, registered objections, phone calls and utilisation of business contacts to prevent us from trading has been utterly breath-taking. In addition, we are also aware that they embarked upon a concerted door-to-door campaign designed to scaremonger neighbours into believing that there are legitimate concerns (despite there being none when they were operating their own hotel, restaurant and bar next door). We are stunned that our vision of an upmarket establishment is being portrayed as a potential means of destruction of the local area when it is simply the opposite that is actually true. Furthermore, we have discovered, that the bulk of the registered on-line objectors are in fact relatives and tenants of these two complainants, who coincidentally live in their numerous rented-out properties locally.
Without even establishing the facts and before we’d barely even begun, a complaint was made of such gravity (“on behalf of a neighbour”) so as to automatically instigate a full investigation into our alleged ‘breach of planning control.’ As such, we were duly investigated by Stoke Planning and subsequently, there was found to be no wrongdoing and the file was eventually closed. We repeatedly requested the name of the complainant and the actual reason for the complaint but planning refused to tell us. We forced the release of this information via legal channels under The Freedom of Information Act and were informed 26 days later.
Following this, Bet365 then commissioned Knights Solicitors to register an objection which used every conceivable argument to prevent approval of our application. Coincidentally, Bet365 purchased the Haydon House Hotel from our main objectors in September 2010....
This property now provides accommodation for Bet365’s mainly overseas workers working at the Festival Park offices. After selling the hotel to Bet365, our objectors then moved into a house opposite their former hotel, a few yards away.
Knights Solicitors claim that our business “will give rise to a demonstrable harm to both the residential amenity and quality of life of the adjacent residents and as such the application should be refused.”
Following Knights letters and objections, a separate technical report/objection was then submitted by a company called SCP who were "instructed by Hillside (Shared Services) Ltd." Upon investigation we found that Hillside are in fact part of the Bet365 group and their registered office address is at Bet365 on Festival Park, Stoke on Trent. This effectively made it appear that there have been objections from differing parties/organisations. This detailed report related to car parking and traffic issues; analysing, measuring, scrutinising, every inch, angle, metre, policy and clearances. The physical environment surrounding the former Haydon House Hotel and Brunswick House has not changed, so it begs the question as to why this has suddenly become a concern given that the data produced was equally applicable to Haydon House.
We do not believe there are any credible planning grounds to refuse our application and Stoke-on-Trent Planning have justified their refusal on the following basis:
1. Being contrary to the National Planning policy Framework 2012 in that “eating and drinking establishments are defined as town centre uses.’
- (This usually applies to larger developments - we are highly insignificant in terms of format and scale and our opening would certainly have NO impact or harm on the vitality of Stoke City Centre businesses. Planning are required to “demonstrate flexibility on format and scale.” There has been no flexibility whatsoever and planning have chosen to disregard the minimal scale of our operation).
2. Highway safety and parking - stating that “there MAY be a shortfall of off-street parking provision.”
- (We have 15 car parking spaces).
3. The Bistro “is not ancillary to the Beauty Salon and are not a single integrated use” so “would be contrary to established policy guidance.”
- ·(This is simply not true)
4. "The impact on local residents."
- (Neighbours have lived alongside the Haydon House Hotel with its coming and goings of their twenty or so staff, many hotel residents; wedding and party guests, conference attendees as well as the cocktail lounge, bar and Townhouse restaurant customers - all the while without issue.
- We are located on an extremely busy main road/street so any 'noise' generated by us will not have any impact at all.....we are not situated in a quiet village but in a busy mixed commercial/residential area.
- Given that there are many thousands of cars drive past each day, any 'additional traffic' generated by our relatively minor operation will be so infinitesimally small by comparison, it will certainly not "have an adverse effect on highway safety, cause accidents, additional traffic congestion or cause problems for emergency services" as asserted by our two objectors.
- Both The Queens at Basford and The Haydon House Hotel have operated a licensed bar and restaurant for around 30 years and given that both of these were in the immediate vicinity and are now closed, it is simply not logical that these businesses were allowed to operate when ours is not).
The Police, as a planning consultee in this matter, wrote positive and supportive comments in favour of our proposal (as did all the other consultees; environmental health, public protection, air quality etc). Our objectors have dismissed the professional judgement of the police and refused to accept it by requesting a second Police review.
We were initially full of enthusiasm and willing to risk everything we have to invest in a business in a City we were proud to grow up in. Quite frankly we are now completely exhausted by it all; battered by the crippling bureaucracy, the stranglehold and misuse of political correctness but moreover planning’s subjective interpretation of policies that stand in the way of setting up a small business which would bring much-needed employment to local residents and a community service to a town that “still faces significant economic and social difficulties.” (Local Development Framework, Newcastle and Stoke on Trent Core Spatial Strategy 2006-2026 Section 3.45).
It seems preposterous that our intention to bring prosperity, jobs and service to the local community is being considered as destructive rather than contributory. Sadly, it appears that Stoke on Trent City Council (who profess to support, welcome and incentivise new business) have lost sight of a realistic perspective and succumbed to the fear and influence of the might and power of the existing ‘business’ community rather than actively encouraging and nurturing small businesses in a city that desperately needs employment and investment. Perhaps the Planning Department have chosen the path of least resistance by complying with the wishes of our relentless complainants and concluded that it is on balance, easier to say ‘no’ to us than it is to our neighbours. We are determined to prove that:
- There is indeed a strong local demand for this type of business/service
- The local area will benefit by way of much-needed employment
- This is a short-sighted error of judgement on the part of Stoke on Trent City Planning and they should not allow their decision to be influenced by two determined and well-connected neighbours whose actions are clearly not borne from any genuine or credible environmental or planning concerns.
With our very many thanks for your support.
Debbie and Jess
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