Thousands have signed an online petition to help save the takeaway service at a popular Roker cafe.
Operating as a cafe, with a sit-in facility, prior to the pandemic, Cole Kitchen in St George’s Terrace switched its business model to takeaway two years ago in line with the restrictions at the time.
In 2022, with coronavirus legislation withdrawn, the owners lodged a retrospective planning application to “formalise the business as a hot food takeaway” and continue the business in its current form.
However, this was refused by city development chiefs over fears about obesity and impacts on neighbours.
Last month, the owners confirmed they plan to challenge the council’s refusal decision by lodging an appeal with the national Planning Inspectorate.
A statement from Cole Kitchen, who are also expanding by taking over the former Steve’s News in Cleadon, said: “We do plan to appeal the decision. During the pandemic we adapted our business when only takeaway service was allowed.
“We did this to keep us afloat and keep our staff employed. Due to the positive response from customers, we’d like to continue if at all possible. We’re keeping our fingers crossed, but if we have to adapt again, we will.
“We’ve been in the space for five years and feel we are part of the community.”
Now, their loyal customers have launched a Change.Org petition to keep the takeaway service going, which has been signed by more than 3,000 people in a matter of days.
Commenting on the petition, customer Gregory Sanderson, wrote: “I love Cole Kitchen. It is such an asset to our Beachfront. They do great food, excellent coffee and everyone is always so welcoming. It would be a shame to lose it. There is nothing else that compares on the Beachfront!”
Clare Mason·wrote: “I just don’t understand why the council are trying to close it. The food is cooked to order of high quality and nowhere near a school that would encourage obesity in young people.”
Leigh McFarlane wrote: “This is a fantastic asset to the area and has always been a responsible business. It would be unfair to withdraw permission now the business is established and never created any problems. Come on SCC is this right! I visit every time I’m home.”
The refusal decision is set out in a council report published on Sunderland City Council’s website.
Council planners argued the hot food takeaway, and activity it generates, would be “significantly more intrusive than that associated with the previous café use.”
The council’s environmental health team also asked the applicant to provide information to show that the “installation of the new extraction system and the operation of the hot food takeaway would not cause a significant adverse impact to nearby residential premises, particularly with regard to odour.”
For more information on the application and council refusal, visit Sunderland City Council’s online planning portal and search reference: 22/01391/FUL