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Michelin-starred restaurant hit with backlash from villagers over expansion plans

A Michelin-starred restaurant in County Durham has been hit by a backlash from locals who claim the restaurant’s traffic makes them “prisoners” in their own homes in an objection letter to Darlington council.

The Raby Hunt restaurant, the only Michelin-starred restaurant in England’s north east, plans to combine the restaurant with an adjoining cottage to add extra guest bedrooms to its inn, along with a new wine storage facility. Many of the villagers claim the expansion plans will “aggravate” the problems caused by the restaurant’s customers.

In the objection letter, locals claim “arrogant diners” and delivery vans are blocking the streets for bus routes and the cars of residents. Lesley Fear, 40, who lives in the town said in the letter the lack of car parking spaces has led to villagers being forced to park miles away from their homes.

Chair of the village’s Summerhouse Village Hall Committee, Barbara Braithwaite, claimed owners and staff at the restaurant treated locals “with contempt”. Braithwaite said: “Unfortunately, the business does not bring anything positive to the village. The owners and staff show no interest in the village and have no interaction with residents.

“The notoriety and success of the restaurant means that there are a great many staff, trainees and interns as well as customers all needing to park their cars, which obviously puts a strain on our small village.”

According to Braithwaite, the restaurant had been offered the use of the village hall car park for £50 per week however an agreement was not reached.

A letter from the restaurant to the council, in protest at residents claims, reads: “The applicant and business owners are very aware and sympathetic to their surroundings and neighbours. They operate within the constraints of their licence.

“However, as expected with a business of this quality, the operational times are far greater than the customer opening times, and do include a number of hours of preparation time before service and clean-down time after service.”

Raby Hunt refused to comment when contacted by Catering Today.

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