Crab shop can carry on

After a long planning saga with North Norfolk District Council, the owners of Cookie's crab shop have been given a certificate of lawfulness – meaning Cookies will live on.

It has become the epitome of outdoor eating, a stripped down, bring your own drink, crab shop tucked into the north Norfolk coast and feted nationally.

People come to pick up anything from smoked kippers to wedding platters, but it is the simplicity of Cookie's crab shop, opposite the mud flats at Salthouse, which is its big draw.

But in 2005 its future was thrown into doubt when, because of a complaint about its three-year-old wooden summerhouse, owners Sue and Peter McKnespiey found they did not have planning permission - and had not had for more than 50 years.

But finally, after a long planning saga with North Norfolk District Council, which involved having to prove they had been running the shop for more than 10 years, the pair have been given a certificate of lawfulness - meaning Cookie's will live on.

Mrs McKnespiey said: “It has been a horrendous year but the customers have been wonderful.”

Mr McKnespiey added: “We are just very relieved and thank God we can just carry on and get on with what we are doing.”

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As well as having to hire a solicitor to help with affidavits, the couple were also up against complaints from locals about loud music and that the shop had become too popular, with cars parking on the village green.

Mrs McKnespiey said: “It seems like you must not become too popular in Norfolk. We have never worked to expand the shop but we always get good write-ups. Peter has made the shop so special. He has that gift with the food, especially the presentation.”

Cookie's was opened 51 years ago by her parents, Jack and Elsie Cooke.

Jack, nicknamed Cookie, did the fishing, crabbing and digging for bait and ran a fish and chip shop in Holt.

When her parents died, Mrs McKnespiey took over and a couple of years later, Peter, her childhood sweetheart from Sheringham High School, came along and they got back together and joined forces running the shop.

Though Mr McKnespiey had been an electrician, he had some knowledge of the food industry, having been brought up with the Craske bakery family and spent his youth baking bread and pork pies.

The shop will be shut from today for seven weeks for maintenance and a break for Mr and Mrs McKnespiey.