External drinking and dining terrace allowed to remain temporarily

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A restaurant in Wilmslow town centre has been allowed to retain their outdoor drinking and dining terrace but only on a temporary basis.

Sotto were seeking consent to change the permission to permanent so they can keep the outdoor terrace on the grassed area at the front of their Wareham Street restaurant, which they opened in May 2021 when Covid restrictions were lifted.

In April 2022, the restaurant was retrospectively granted planning permission for the alfresco dining area which is located an area of protected open space. This approval restricted the use of the outdoor area for a period of 18 months and was due to expire on 22nd October 2023.

Members of the Northern Planning Committee were once again divided over the controversial application when they considered it for the second time on Wednesday, 5th July - having failed to reach a decision at their March meeting.

Councillor David Jefferay said "I again spoke in favour of the application for a permanent permission but because I was therefore "predetermined" I was required to leave the meeting rather than participate in the debate and the vote.

"I did however listen in online. Cllr Michael Gorman (Wilmslow West and Chorley) also argued robustly in favour of giving permanent permission but some members of the committee took the view that it would potentially set an unwelcome precedent of building on open space, which is probably a valid concern. However, it was proposed that 5 year extension to the temporary permission would be a good compromise to allow the business to overcome the current difficult business conditions."

The proposal was carried with 5 in favour of a 5 year extension and 4 against.

Councillor Jefferay added "Whilst this is not what Sotto had requested, it could be considered a good result as the officer's recommendation to the committee was outright refusal.

"I am disappointed for Athena at Sotto but hopefully this will give her some certainty for the medium term and it means they are not required to pay the quite substantial financial contribution to compensate for the loss of open space that would have been payable if permanent permission had been given.

"There is also nothing to stop them submitting a permanent application at the end of the 5 years if they require it and want to build a permanent structure."

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Comments

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

Erik Garner
Thursday 6th July 2023 at 7:38 am
Im really pressed for Athena and the staff at Sotto. The restaurant and building in question are lovely and really add something positive to the town as well as providing jobs.
To think that at one stage the council shut it down completely and they’ve now given a five year extension has to been seen as hugely positive for Sotto’s future plans to keep the building permanently and allow them to thrive.
In my opinion, what Sotto have done could be replicated in unused spaces around the town to enhance businesses and attract footfall to Wilmslow so long as it’s done as tastefully as Sotto have done it.
Wayne Jaffe
Thursday 6th July 2023 at 7:58 am
A reasonable compromise but some of the negative comments have been so outrageous and frankly ridiculous. At least we can enjoy their hospitality for a while longer whilst further mitigation over the loss of the green space by the traffic lights can be considered.
Fraser Hill
Thursday 6th July 2023 at 10:02 pm
Loss of open space? I just don’t get it, a small area of grass and a couple of trees that are still there. Not an area that anyone was ever going use to sit in and just through the lights there’s more grass and flower beds anyway.
Has any resident in Wilmslow complained about the lack of open space? I doubt it.
The overriding feeling seems to be that Sotto has added something to the town not taken something away!
In any case the council weren’t too fussed about nice open green spaces when they paved over Bank Squares garden, or gave permission for thousands of new houses on fields around Wilmslow.
Ryan Dance
Sunday 9th July 2023 at 9:47 pm
Trust me Fraser. It’s caused allot of debate. It’s a small parcel of land sandwiched between a very busy road, a kitchen showroom, a few restaurants, some other business premises and some parking. The anti anything mob keep blabbing on about moving to other vacant business premises. Anyone with half a brain would clearly understand the cost implications for a small business in doing this. Anyway looks like it’s here to stay for a while longer (a good thing) and the NIMBY brigade can actually focus on some big ticket items rather than objecting to everything and anything.
Beatrice Turler
Thursday 13th July 2023 at 8:53 am
Five years is hardly temporary. It is ugly now and it will still be ugly in five years' time. It's not as though there is a lack of restaurants in Wilmslow, can't this one just be content with the space they've got?
Bernard Mitchell
Thursday 13th July 2023 at 9:58 am
What an interesting outcome ! does this mean that anyone can squat on land they don’t own and open a business ,if so what will the supporters of Sotto say should the travelling community chose to set up camp in the Leisure Center car park using the same kind of logic ,
Whilst I understand that those who enjoy Sotto have right to voiced their support ( a right I fully support ) the reality of the situation is rather different .
Sotto is a business set up with only one agenda ,TO MAKE MONEY FOR THE OWNERS ,not a charity as some of your contributors imply
Whilst i agree it provides jobs I can assure you that there is no shortage of vacancies in the hospitality industry in Wilmslow and with all the new and expanding location many more to come .
I have a few question I would like answering , how do the owners of land the Greenhouse sits on feel , do Sotto pay rent , what if any rates are paid as a contribution to Wilmslow. How come the restaurant next door managed to weather the pandemic without resorting to such extrem measures and indeed expand from one outlet to four . Perhaps the fact that your food is not carried across the street in all weathers or you likewise don’t have to cross the street to use the toilets has some bearing on it but each to there own .
Should the restaurant fail who will remove the structure or will it just be let to fall down ,then what will your readers have to say WHAT THIS SPACE .
Simon Worthington
Saturday 15th July 2023 at 11:55 am
Land they don’t own! It would appear to belong to Sotto’s landlord - guess who. The council will not have been slow to demand their pound of flesh neither will the suspiciously quiet landlord hoping no doubt to “develop” the whole area in the future.