Restaurant refurb work could be torn down following planning dispute

A Stafford restaurant could be ordered to tear down £25,000 worth of refurbishments after they were made without planning permission.

The issues at the restaurant, named Chico’s, are focused particularly on new cladding which was erected without planning permission, meaning the restaurant has had to submit a retrospective planning application to Stafford Borough Council.

Restaurant owner, Rafiq Sheikh, said: “It cost us nearly £27,000 and some of the windows were already uPVC. If we take it out it will do more damage to the building and we wouldn’t be able to trade. I think we have done a good job and it blends in with the rest of the area. It was an eyesore before, now it is nice and a lot of people like it.”

Today (6 February) the council’s planning committee agreed “that appropriate action be authorised to include all steps including the instigation of court proceedings and any work required to secure the removal of the unauthorised cladding and windows on the front and side elevations of the building and any remedial works required to reinstate the original elevations”.

A report to the planning committee said: “64 Foregate Street forms a prominent corner plot building at the junction of County Road and Foregate Street and is within the Foregate and St Georges Conservation Area.

“The introduction of uPVC cladding and uPVC windows has resulted in historic detailing to the building either (being) lost or concealed and the building now appearing as a featureless box-like structure formed from alien materials which take no reference from the conservation area.

“The works therefore fail to preserve or enhance the significance of this heritage asset and consequently harm the character and appearance of the Foregate and St Georges Conservation Area for which there is no overriding public benefit.”

Councillor Carolyn Trowbridge, said: “They are saying this is in a conservation area so we don’t accept it. How can this still be a conservation area when we have that huge monstrosity of a building?”

Committee member Jack Kemp added: “It’s completely out of keeping with the area. It is an old pub. There is no other building nearby that looks the same. It doesn’t blend in with anything – it used to in the past.”

The restaurant which opened last year, created 10 new jobs in the town following its launch, and currently holds a four and a half star rating on review platform, TripAdvisor.

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