Sadness as much-loved café is forced to close

Police are appealing for witnesses
Police are appealing for witnesses

A popular café has been forced to close after losing its long-running battle with Chichester District Council.

Smoked & Chard Café, located at Earnley Grange, Almodington Lane, shut earlier this month and has now been served an enforcement notice.

The announcement that its ‘arduous fight’ to stay open had been lost last week saw a huge outpouring of sadness on the café’s Facebook page, with many saying it would be greatly missed.

Calling it a ‘delightful, popular coffee shop, Elaine Thomas said: “Another rural amenity squashed while planning permission for new housing continues relentlessly.”

In July, owner Ian Parker’s retrospective planning permission for the formerly empty farm building to remain a café was turned down by the council’s planners.

They found the location and size of the proposed car park would have a ‘significant adverse impact’ on the surrounding rural area and the main Grade II Listed Earnley Grange building.

A number of residents wrote in support of the cafe remaining, as did Earnley Parish Council. It said it ‘respects and enhances the landscape character of the area, supports rural regeneration and has provided employment opportunities without significant alterations or extension to the building’.

However, a number of people objected, citing its access on a bend, parking for 300 cars and loud music from evening events as reasons.

Mr Parker, as part of his application, stated: “Running this business from Earnley Grange not only benefits all the locals but helps us maintain the listed building.”

However, following the refusal, CDC issued Mr Parker an enforcement notice on October 11, saying a breach of planning rules had occurred.

The notice called it an ‘unjustified and unacceptable form of development in the countryside’.

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