Future of external drinking and dining terrace back on the agenda


A decision on whether a restaurant in Wilmslow town centre will be allowed to retain their outdoor drinking and dining terrace is due to be made by the Northern Planning Committee next week.

Sotto opened the outdoor dining and dining terrace on the grassed area at the front of their Wareham Street restaurant in May 2021, when Covid restrictions were lifted, on an area of protected open space.

The Italian and Spanish restaurant, which opened in April 2018, was retrospectively granted planning permission for the alfresco dining area with decking and a canopy in April 2022. However, the current approval restricts the use of the outdoor area for a period of 18 months, which is due to expire on 22nd October 2023.

Sotto is now seeking consent to change the permission to permanent so they can retain the structure, stating "the development would encourage longevity for the existing business and would have a positive impact on Wilmslow Town Centre."

Members of the Northern Planning Committee will consider the application for the second time - having failed to reach a decision at their meeting in March.

Instead they referred the decision to a later meeting to enable owners of Sotto to:

  • 1. To resolve the maintenance/protection/care of the trees on site
  • 2. Submit information to identify the economic benefits and justification for the proposal
  • 3. To identify mitigation for the loss of open space in other open spaces

The owners have subsequently submitted further information, however the Planning Officer is still recommending refusal of the application at the Northern Planning on Wednesday, 5th July, stating "The Local Planning Authority consider that the proposed materials would not be appropriate for a permanent structure and the development would be contrary to policies regarding the protection of open green spaces."



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

David Nelson
Wednesday 28th June 2023 at 1:12 pm
Needs to stay. Adds class and style to Wilmslow.
Clive Cooksey
Wednesday 28th June 2023 at 5:06 pm
Please let this stay. It is a welcoming and interesting site to people visiting out town.
Ian Tetler
Wednesday 28th June 2023 at 5:25 pm
As per previous past comment. Sotto is an asset to Wilmslow and deserves to be supported.
Take a look at the building demise of Wilmslow with dilapidated premises of pubs, offices and banks…. Barclays just sings welcome to Wilmslow !!!!
Seems strange planning has been given to another Italian restaurant doubling in size and height..
Seems strange, don’t you think
Bernard Mitchell
Wednesday 28th June 2023 at 5:33 pm
There are plenty of places to eat in Wilmslow ,without this monstrosity
As far as I am aware the structure was a temporary addition during the Covid period
It is a blot on the landscape ,with visitors to Wilmslow asking us what it is and why its allowed to continue as in no way does it add to the areas character standing out like a sore thumb .
It also reduces the already l limited parking as is on two or more parking bays .
There to little green space in the town as it is !!!!!!!!
Let’s kiss it goodby .
Martin Burlin
Wednesday 28th June 2023 at 5:57 pm
I cannot understand why this great addition to Wilmslow is giving the planners such problems.

At a time, when the hospitality industry is going through such difficult times, the Council need to be showing support for the hard pressed business community.
Gary Chaplin
Wednesday 28th June 2023 at 7:06 pm
This just typifies the ridiculous position of our planning system. What possible reason is there for not wanting such an enjoyable outdoor eating area?

The planning officer needs to give his head a wobble.
David Smith
Wednesday 28th June 2023 at 7:41 pm
Note to the planners:

This isn't a 'restaurant' - it's a CARAVAN that someone has parked on the grass space by the traffic lights in the centre of Wilmslow!

When are the owners going to come and take it away?

See https://www.wilmslow.co.uk/news/article/23377/decision-due-on-plans-for-holiday-lodges-on-green-belt-site?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter1495
Terry Roeves
Wednesday 28th June 2023 at 8:01 pm
Not tried it yet, but it’s popular for the right reasons. In the CE LP did planners want to create a vibrant town with a night life? Surely this helps in a very civilised manner?
Ashly Barber
Wednesday 28th June 2023 at 8:25 pm
Agree with Planning Officer - this needs to go. There are plenty of other commercial spaces available in Wilmslow that Soto could move to if they want to expand. I think they have been given enough grace period already.
Beatrice Turler
Wednesday 28th June 2023 at 9:57 pm
It looks horrible and I would be delighted if it was removed. We were initially told it was temporary, but now a bit more public space will be lost if this excrescence is allowed to stay.
Stuart Redgard
Thursday 29th June 2023 at 12:44 am
I have no objection to the decking, but I do object to the enclosure.
Simon Worthington
Thursday 29th June 2023 at 7:09 am
The only people who can see it are the ones sitting in traffic jams transiting the town
Duncan Penn
Thursday 29th June 2023 at 7:59 am
This is what I don't get about the UK, I lived in Wilmslow all my life, up until 2011 when I was lucky enough to move to France, here outside dinning is welcomed as it adds value to the experience, there is never any issue with the local Marie to allow this, local councils should embrace such things, adds value to Wilmslow and extra income also, the UK needs to wake up, here in France there are many diffreneces all for the better, like the shops been open past 5.30pm!!!! I am always suprised when in the UK that veryting closes at 5.30pm no wonder the econmy of the UK is flat broke.
John Harries
Thursday 29th June 2023 at 9:14 am
Clearly mixed feelings about this and incongruous that a related article appears this week about another 'dubious' planning consideration submitted by another 'chancer' - now we are focused on working out what cabins/lodges are (or are not!).
No doubt, if the incentive is high enough, these applications may both end up being decided by someone maybe hundreds of miles away, unrelated/unfamiliar with the area who apparently works by yet another set of 'standards' which more often than not comes up with the 'right' answer. It's a shambles and a sham.
I personally don't think it appropriate for yet another [essentially] 'outside eating establishment' to be sited at a busy 4-lane traffic intersection that bases it's right to continue (on temporary permission basis) granted during a once in a lifetime health emergency episode. Duncan Penn made his choice and moved to France 12 years ago but needs to appreciate there are now many outside dining/eating opportunities in Wilmslow and environs "..here in France there are many differences all for the better"....I see they are rampaging and rioting/burning in the streets...again!
Bernard Mitchell
Thursday 29th June 2023 at 12:41 pm
Wilmslow is such a wonderful place that Duncan Penn cleared off to France
Where you pay extra to sit on the front of restaurant to enable you to inhale more traffic fumes than those in the cheep seats at the back,
Where local planning is so often decided by official's with sticky palms
and rioting is a way of getting your own ways
Thank god we here in this part of the world are in general a little more advanced
I have canvassed several local people who like me wish Duncan well in utopia but hope he stays out of Wilmslow as his opinion s of no consequence here .
Duncan Penn
Thursday 29th June 2023 at 3:06 pm
@John Harries, it’s called freedom to protest and show our feelings, plus the police are not scared to do their job!! unlike the UK where you are all too scared to fart, never mind protest, the UK needs to find its back bone again.

That’s all from me, I’m off to continue enjoying my French life. Night night UK.
John Harries
Thursday 29th June 2023 at 4:44 pm
#Simon Worthington, a fair point to make but I suspect based purely on conjecture and not actually relevant to this thread.
Last time I looked Wilmslow wasn't a holiday/vacation destination unlike your traditional mobile/portable home localities, more often than not, the coast. The Saltersley Farm application is merely a means of circumventing the planning Laws for gain - it's building on the Green Belt albeit domicile structures of a 'temporary' nature, they still require services, access, even postal addresses unlike the fields they despoil [I haven't ever seen any revert to nature so effectively it's a permanent change regardless of the claimed transient nature of the structures).
There are numerous examples in the area of this type of otherwise 'green/wooded' land exploitation - if that is classed as progress then it's a sad day for the Cheshire countryside and an indictment of lax/inadequate planning Laws.
Ryan Dance
Thursday 29th June 2023 at 5:21 pm
This debacle just about sums up all that is wrong and indeed why the country is flat broke whilst pretending it’s both progressive and cash rich.

Comments such as “Little green Space… needs to go… looks horrible … I object to the closure”

It’s pleasing to see that “The anti-anything mob” still exist. What a joke. Only time and evolution will rid our community of such views. Change is hard. Live a little, embrace it, encourage it, support it.

Do us all favour in the spirit of progression and positivity. Remove yourself from here and even better - find a far northern uninhabited island and migrate quickly.
Stuart Redgard
Friday 30th June 2023 at 12:08 am
Ryan Dance

You are entitled to your opinion and to share it. So am I and I will even if you don't like it.

I'm not anti-anything. I have dined there and liked the external dining area. But it's no longer an external dining area. It's a building that was built without planning permission and is contrary to planning law.

If they want to have a larger restaurant then get a larger building. There are plenty available in Wilmslow such as the empty restaurant on Water Lane.
Jon Williams
Friday 30th June 2023 at 11:37 am
It's a shed and a eyesore, needs removing, bring back green space !
Graham Shaw
Friday 30th June 2023 at 1:38 pm
I agree it should go and should never have been allowed in the first place. It's an eyesore and has destroyed what used to be a nice open space and God knows that Cheshire East have destroyed enough of those in and around Wilmslow over the past few years.

Every time I am in the Indian restaurant all I see is a few people sitting in this large monstrosity whilst the actual restaurant is empty of customers so I fail to see the need for this extra capacity.
Ryan Dance
Friday 30th June 2023 at 2:51 pm
Jon. It’s hardly a green space. But then again - you normally object to almost everything.

Graham - nice open space? You must be deluded. The land / space you are referencing is a tiny parcel of land, sandwiched between a busy road, a kitchen showroom, a few other restaurants…amongst other businesses and some parking. It’s hardly a nice green space to enjoy - to pretend otherwise is misleading and quite frankly bordering on stupidity.
Bernard Mitchell
Sunday 2nd July 2023 at 5:46 pm
How sad it is that this forum is used as a form of abuse by those who would turn Wilmslow into more of an eyesore if they were in charge of planning etc.
Surely free speech and expression of opinion is everyone’s right without abusive comeback . As I child I was told that manners makes the man .
If the green space returns to the area in question perhaps the addition of a bench or two so those who would make offensives comment could sit in quiet reflection before there next rant .
Foot note
For those who see this as an expectable visual experience in the area .
Spec savers is in Grove Street
England is a Green and pleasant land every little helps to keep it that way
Olivia Flannagan
Sunday 2nd July 2023 at 8:36 pm
This is extremely beneficial to wilmslow. It offers a good use of a great space that was left empty that benefits the local community. It offers an alternative way of dining which a lot of people are more comfortable doing so since Covid. Other restaurants such as Piccolino’s have huge outdoor seating areas on a larger scale than this and there is never an objection against it. Why should it be different for a local restaurant that is giving a unique dining experience that the community enjoys.
Wayne Jaffe
Sunday 2nd July 2023 at 8:40 pm
This is obviously a real asset to Wilmslow, you just need to see the happy people who congregate there on a lovely day. We are belatedly becoming used to enjoying al fresco dining here, replicating what our more civilised European neighbours have been enjoying for centuries.
I do remember the patch of land before the terrace, it was used by occasional dog walkers mostly. I never saw any people picnicking there in the preceding 20 years.
Some don't like the aesthetics, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder but everyone I know likes it and unlike some commentators, can even work out what it is!
The way some of the posts are up in their
NIMBY arms, you'd think they were talking about the Lost Gardens of Heligan, not a piece of previously underused land by a traffic intersection that is actually now providing employment to people and enjoyment to many.
Perhaps other areas of the town centre can be landscaped better to provide compensation for those are so massively troubled by this frankly wonderful addition to the town centre.
Vince Chadwick
Sunday 2nd July 2023 at 9:43 pm
It looks quite innocuous compared to the awful monstrosity of a shed that looms over Alderley Road in front of the Merlin, partially hiding the elegant building that is the Merlin itself.
Stuart Redgard
Monday 3rd July 2023 at 2:50 am
Ryan Dance

Personally speaking, my opinion is that it is you who are deluded.

The piece of land had been well maintained and previously used By Emmerson for a Christmas Lights display.
Faynia Campbell
Monday 3rd July 2023 at 12:21 pm
My family and I dine out here often, my sons, my partner and I especially love the fact that we can sit outside and not be cooped up in a restaurant. The food is excellent, the ambience and service always on point. It would be such a shame to see the outdoor area go. There isn’t another restaurant around like it where we can sit out and embrace the good weather. It’s a real novelty to be able to do this and it just makes the whole dining out experience a little bit more special.
David Chambers
Monday 3rd July 2023 at 8:56 pm
This area is an asset to Wilmslow, it draws visitors into the town centre. Wilmslow has plenty of lovely green spaces, this former scrap of land was not among them.
Mark Goldsmith
Tuesday 4th July 2023 at 12:01 pm
I think this debate misses the key point.

Planning does not judge the applicant. It only judges the building.

Therefore, this is not a judgement on Sotto, their food or their business model. Full planning approval is ONLY for the building. And it is permanent. So is not linked to Sotto and they have no obligation to trade there. If they close down or move premises, this structure can remain and be used for another commercial purpose.

Also, granting full approval for a temporary structure would make it far easier to obtain permission for a new permanent building. And it would not have to be for outside dining either. It could just as easily be for a new solicitor’s office or an estate agency.

So, the real decision is:

Do you want to keep the green space or do you want a building?

In my view, I would consider what the people of Wilmslow in 50 years’ time would prefer.
In doing that, I think they would be rather horrified at us, if we made this decision based only on the fleeting popularity of a restaurant.


Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow
Wilmslow West & Chorley
Terry Roeves
Wednesday 5th July 2023 at 4:38 pm
Wise words from Cllr Mark. Thank you.
John Harries
Wednesday 5th July 2023 at 5:47 pm
There is already a vacant building diagonally opposite this site complete with outdoor dining area, a conservatory type structure attached and preparation facilities to boot. A temporary glazed structure could no doubt be added to recreate the Sotto atmosphere that appears to be so popular. If you like watching queuing/cruising traffic whilst you dine (minus the hill starts...) here you go, it's sort of oven ready!
For those of us old enough to remember (and before Emerson got their hands on it) the present 'green' site of Sotto was, perhaps 60 or so years back, a busy three story mixed-use commercial property.
Simon Holman
Wednesday 5th July 2023 at 11:22 pm
I'd planned to comment before Cllr Goldsmith's comments, which while setting out some planning considerations I'm not well versed enough to know if they cover every eventuality. The simple facts are these: protecting green space is about protecting the likes of the Carrs, or the Carnival Field, or similar areas. A tiny patch of grass that's been ignored for umpteen years? Not so much. It's never had any use other than under Sotto for many years.
If we're talking green space, perhaps I could share the photo of the four mature trees that were hacked down today at Little Stanneylands for more housing? They almost certainly contributed far much more to greenery and combating climate change than the grass under the Sotto decking.
Cllr Goldsmith - let's take your 50-year view as given. Can you confirm for those less well-versed in planning minutiae whether a temporary extension for a number of years could be granted? That would allow the present arrangement to continue without burdening the residents of 2073 with a decision to make.