slowster wrote:My guess is that if the cafe owner had sought permission for the change of use prior to opening the cafe, the Planning Inspector's assessment of the application would have been based on an assumed typical/average cafe with a typical customer base, and any complaints would similarly have been likely to have been based on assumptions regarding the likely impact of a cafe.
Because the application was made retrospectively, the complaints have been based not on what residents thought the impact of a (generic) cafe might be, but on what its impact has actually been. One of the complaints mentioned that the cafe was resulting in hundreds of cyclists riding through the village on a given day, which I thought initially was exageration, but which might be accurate if the cafe's customers are mostly cyclists, and that could have quite an impact on a small village, e.g. comparable to a sportive ride being routed through the village every weekend.
The fact that what the residents are complaining about is not the actual consumption of food and drink inside the cafe, but the impact of the cyclists on the residents and the village outside the cafe, is irrelevant. It's normal for planning applications to consider the wider impact, e.g. how many traffic movements a new facility might add to congested local roads or the lack of sufficient parking for the proposed use. If the cafe is routinely attracting large numbers of cyclists to gather outside prior to a ride or club run, even if not invited or encouraged to do so by the cafe owner, it's not surprising that the Planning Inspector is taking account of the complaints about the noise and disturbance caused by such groups in considering the application for the change of use and the enforcement of any decision.
I don't think it's that unusual for businesses to seek retrospective permission for such change of use, but they take a risk in doing so that they will be refused and be forced to close, and it looks in this case as if the cafe is a victim of its success. It has attracted lots of cyclists, and the large numbers have impacted residents.
Allegedly...... and the Council haven't even stated what the problem(s) are.