Businessman’s anger as ‘cafe culture’ plan for Holt falls short

An entrepreneur urged people to 'see the vision' as his bid to extend the outdoor 'cafe culture' on the streets of Holt was blocked.

Paul Rogers, who runs a mobile bar business called Alfresco, was given a licence for an Italian cafe-bar on Fish Hill in Holt when councillors met earlier this week.

But the members of the licensing sub-committee of North Norfolk District Council did not allow him to put tables and chairs on the street to allow some alfresco eating.

Mr Rogers, who earlier this year breathed new life in his home village of Briningham, near Holt, by opening a bar in the village hall every Thursday, said the decision could be a 'deal breaker'.

Fish Hill is a picturesque cul-de-sac in the Georgian market town, and there were a series of objections from nearby residents who were concerned about noise nuisance and other issues.

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Mr Rogers said: 'The objections against it are absolutely bonkers. I'm Holt born and bred. What I want to do is attract people to a corner of the town where there are two empty shops and one for sale.

'Having a cafe culture would be good for Holt.

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'It might take a long while to get the chairs and tables through. We are still to decide what to do. In our view the outside seating is very important and this could be a deal breaker.'

He added: 'It's so disappointing that people can't see the vision. Holt is the ideal place for this. It's a public highway but it's a dead end.'

He was permitted to sell alcohol and have recorded music at the cafe-bar between 8am-9.30pm from Monday to Saturday and from 11am-9.30pm on Sunday.

The sub-committee also allowed his request to have live music between 6-9.30pm on Fridays, 12-9.30pm on Saturdays and from 11am-9.30pm on Sundays.

Mr Rogers said: 'We have always been ready to make amendments to make sure we are working with, and not against, the community.

'When people see 'bar and live music' they get a vision of a pub with loud music. We are not like that. We want to open a quiet Italian cafe-bar and once every four months have a couple of violins playing Vivaldi.'

Chris Cawley, environmental health manager at the council, said the debate had centred on 'bringing cafe culture to Holt'.

He said: 'The key point in the debate was that elsewhere in Norfolk there are cafes which have various permissions to use the public highway, but the distinction being that it's the public footpath, not the road.

'Even though this is a cul-de-sac, it's still the roadway. People have the right to drive around there and park. It was felt inappropriate for this council to give permission for the use of that area.

'The applicant was encouraged to discuss it in detail with county highways and maybe also the adjoining shopkeepers.'

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