Nearly 4,000 sign petition to save Doncaster cafe after council call to stop trading
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Annabel’s Cafe at Loversall opened last year – despite not having the necessary planning permission.
The family behind the cafe at Loversall Farm subsequently applied for retrospective permission - but Doncaster Council planning officers have recommended that the proposal is rejected by councillors after concerns were raised about traffic, litter and the impact on wildlife at two lakes near to the farm.
Owner Annabel Lee has now set up a petition demanding the cafe stay open, with more than 3,700 people signing it.
She said: “Annabel’s is a great asset to the local community. It has been a real pleasure meeting so many lovely people, of all age ranges, enjoying our facilities and the surrounding area.
“The lakes and footpaths were getting increasingly busy in the first lockdown which was the reason why Annabel’s was born. It is fair to say that it has been too busy at times, but this has been due to the lockdowns we have all endured. Once life gets back to normal and other hospitality is opened up we are sure it will return to a calmer place.”
She wants permanent planning permission after trialling it out for six months to see if there was demand.
But the family, which has owned the farm since 1967, did not have planning permission for a change of use of their land from agricultural to a takeaway food and drink outlet aimed at walkers and cyclists using a nearby footpath.
In council planning documents, officers describe the cafe as 'an unauthorised change of land use and an unacceptable development within the Green Belt without special circumstances.'
They argue that the crowds attracted to the cafe could have an adverse impact on the ecology of the new wetlands and the nearby Potteric Carr nature reserve, which is owned by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
The Lees stated that the portable buildings occupied by the cafe did not constitute a permanent structure and could be relocated, and added that the cafe had no parking and was targeted at customers arriving on foot or by bike.
Concerns centred around vehicles using an unsuitable farm track, Hall Balk Lane, to access the cafe, while residents of both Loversall and the Dominion estate complained of residential streets being used for parking.
Other issues raised included a lack of litter bins on the footpaths leading to and from Annabel's, and increasing disturbance to wildlife in an area that had already seen issues with anti-social behaviour from illegal jet skiers and quad bikers.
A petition opposing the cafe was signed by 51 residents of the nearby Dominion estate who had witnessed issues with parking, and a neighbouring farmer also objected, complaining that he had experienced gateways being blocked by parked vehicles, walkers trespassing on his land and dogs being taken into his farmyard.
The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust submitted their opposition on the grounds that the increase in visitors could jeopardise the success of the new lakes during their establishment period as a habitat for nesting birds.