Runton seafood bar plan passed

The site of the planned seafood bar between East and West Runton. Picture: Denise Bradley

The site of the planned seafood bar between East and West Runton. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant 2013

Plans to convert a north Norfolk barn into a coastal seafood bar were passed after town hall bosses stressed the need to support new businesses.

The scheme, which proposed to turn the ground floor of the barn in Runton into an eatery and its roof space into living accommodation, had been recommended for refusal by planning officers and attracted 103 objections.

But members of North Norfolk District Council's planning committee voted to pass the plan, as they felt it was important to support the start up firm that would bring jobs to the area.

Residents, along with Runton Parish Council, had objected to the scheme saying it was an 'unsuitable development' that would increase traffic and harm the untouched nature of the gap between East and West Runton.

District councillor for the Runtons Helen Eales spoke out against the proposals at this morning's committee meeting saying she was supporting the parish council and residents 'who are horrified of the change being made to this small strip of agricultural land'.

She said: 'I don't believe the proposed changes are minor, I believe strongly that this building and it's position make it strongly unsuitable for a domestic dwelling.'

But applicant Alison Matthews said the conversion of the barn, which closed as a brick kiln in 1953, would be of 'great benefit' to both the Runtons and north Norfolk's tourism offer.

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'The government are encouraging small businesses to expand at this time and with the fishing industry diminishing we feel that everything should be done to support what remains of this industry, especially for local fishermen,' she added.

Mrs Matthews said she and husband Richard had gone to 'great pains' to restore the kiln and their work had tidied up the site, which had previously been a 'shambles'.

Chaucer ward councillor Anthea Sweeney supported the scheme and made the proposal to pass it.

She said: 'I see nothing wrong with converting this into a living space and a work space and I think we should be encouraging people at this time to get businesses moving.'

She was supported by Holt ward councillor Philip High and Sheringham ward councillor Richard Shepherd, who added: 'The building itself is good quality, it's a sympathetic design with the old kiln included.

'I think it's quite good and we have to move with the times.'

The scheme was passed by a majority of 8:3 with conditions, which included that the business open before the accommodation is occupied.