Retrospective planning permission temporarily granted for external drinking and dining area


Retrospective planning permission has been granted temporarily for an external drinking and dining area for a town centre restaurant, along with proposed decking and canopy.

Sotto, which opened in April 2018, sought retrospective planning permission for the outdoor dining and dining terrace they created in May 2021, when Covid restrictions were lifted. The terrace is located on a grassed area at the front of their Wareham Street restaurant, resulting in the loss of two parking spaces.

The planning officer felt the scheme resulted in a relatively small loss of green space within the town centre, which is contrary to adopted planning policies, approval of the development could result in more harmful impacts to the town centre's open amenity space over time and would not result in alternative sports or recreation provision.

However, they decided to approve the retrospective application on a temporary basis stating "It is understood that the applicants required the proposed development so that they could and can continue to keep their business operating throughout the recent COVID 19 pandemic. The agent has also stated the applicant would accept a condition regarding a 3-year temporary permission.

"While the proposed development is considered contrary to policies of the adopted local plan and the justification for permanent permission is very limited, it is considered that a temporary permission could be justified in this case in order to aid the security of the financial future of the restaurant after difficulties experienced during the pandemic, helping the business to adapt after lockdowns.

"The work would enable additional trade on a temporary basis following the lifting of restrictions. A temporary permission would therefore be appropriate, to give the applicant a further period of time to consider their options for the business moving forward. It is therefore recommended that permission be granted for a temporary period of 18 months."

Sotto launched a petition to help them achieve restrospective planning permission for their external drinking and dining area, which received 1550 signatures.

On hearing the news that their application has been successful Henry Sheard posted "Sotto Garden will be re-opening its doors with re-vamped menus, events, and so much more with some incredible, new additions that we can't wait to show you.

"We can't wait to see you all and we are so excited for the future at Sotto! See you all very soon and thanks again to the incredible Cheshire Community."



Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

David Smith
Sunday 24th April 2022 at 10:38 pm
Frankly, I've never understood the desire of people to want to sit as near as possible to a main road and have a meal. It all started when smoking was banned inside and so seating arrangements started to appear outside to make having a fag a bit more comfortable which then morphed into having your dinner on the pavement in-between as many fags as you like with pals of the same persuasion.
Covid then was the vehicle of change for this ‘al fumesco’ dining to become more common and almost the only way a business could manage a decent turnover.
So I don’t know. I guess pavement dining might eventually be seen for what it really is and disappear again when customers decide to seek out quieter, cleaner, more private [romantic] venues without the car fumes and possibility of passengers on the 136 bus watching as you dribble soup down your shirt or risk being run over whilst reading the wine list.
I’ve had some good street food in places like Thailand and India and enjoyed the unusual experience but somehow eating out in this way doesn’t seem to translate to the UK - without considering the weather. Neither can anything in Wilmslow compare to many continental ‘eateries’ & ‘drinkeries’ that can be enjoyed at the pavement cafes in the likes of Paris, Florence, Venice or Spain.
Can someone from the council [councillors perhaps too] keep an eye on how much of the pavement some of these outside dining areas actually use to park their tables and chairs. I mean if you were inside a restaurant and suddenly a stream of people with dogs, prams, bikes or scooters started to go past your table [let alone any cars] would you think you had picked a place to eat where perhaps the ambience wasn’t that good and no doubt slag it off on social media?
Finally does anyone from Health & Safety have a view?
John Stewart
Monday 25th April 2022 at 8:22 pm
This application must have had the consent of the land owner. Can't help thinking that every green space is an opportunity to develop ie make money. Watch this (that) space! Long gone are the generous benefactors who bequeathed open spaces simply for the benefit of all Wilmslow residents.
Ryan Dance
Tuesday 26th April 2022 at 6:37 pm
David - not sure what relevance your long dribble has to do with this particular application.

John - perhaps after 24 months of needless chopping and changing of restrictions. Their balance sheet is precarious and they need to commercialise more space to survive.

Good luck to them.
Steph Sankey
Wednesday 27th April 2022 at 3:00 pm
I’m so delighted this has been granted!!! Sotto’s outside area was lovely in the summer and when they enclosed it, it became quite cosy - and David, away from fumes…!!!
Such a wasted patch of grass which was never used by anyone, so at least now Sotto can continue to recover from the pandemic by seating us among the trees and serving us their lovely food, in the warmth of the afternoon/evening sun!!
Graham Shaw
Wednesday 27th April 2022 at 3:29 pm
This structure is a ridiculous blot on the landscape and causes untold problems with cars trying to park either side of this monstrosity as they have taken more than the 2 car parking spaces that they claim and this has had a detrimental effect on those either side, meaning that you cannot get 2 medium sized cars onto the two spaces allocated to Eastern Revive. The result is that you end up with cars parking across the end to pick up takeaways from both restaurants and therefore blocking the road.
What started out as a narrow pedestrian walkway across one car parking space has now developed into something spanning more than 2 spaces.
Why does Sotto need this structure when most of the time their restaurant appears to be empty?
Have any of the planning committee actually seen this and the chaos it is causing?
Wayne Jaffe
Wednesday 27th April 2022 at 8:58 pm
What great news for Wilmslow, it brings in trade, offers employment and makes the town more of a desirable destination.
During the fine weather last year this place was packed, making some of the negative comments posted look ill informed.
With having to live with covid, having more open and well ventilated places to eat, drink and socialise is even more important.
Even during the winter before it was forced to shut, it was a lovely cosy space.
Glad there were so many who signed the petition, indicating a high level of local support from the community.