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Planning protests as chippie changes listed former pub

Owner Adam Papa outside the former Welsh Harp pub at Sturry
Owner Adam Papa outside the former Welsh Harp pub at

A chippie with a champagne bar is opening in Sturry – but the council is investigating claims it does not have planning permission. Papa’s Restaurant has taken over the Welsh Harp pub site in Mill Road and painted its white walls battleship grey. The award-winning business, with 42 outlets nationwide, is preparing to open in the Grade II Listed building next Wednesday. But residents and the parish council have complained to city planning bosses that a bid to convert the pub was refused in January. Parish clerk Jeremy Bellamy said:

“There’s a strength of feeling in Sturry regarding the Welsh Harp which, to the best of my knowledge, has no planning permission, conservation area consent or listed building consent. To date the building has been repainted battleship grey and turquoise, had new wooden cladding added to one side and, for inexplicable reasons, had a new steeply pitched roof put on top of the porch facing towards Canterbury.”

Mr Bellamy said the parish council, city councilor Heather Taylor and a number of residents have now reported the issue to the planning enforcement team. But restaurant owner Adam Papa says he was not behind the application turned down in January and refutes claims of a planning breach. He said:

“We run a tight ship and there’s nothing untoward going on. The application that was refused was submitted by a fellow who wanted to turn it into a kebab shop. We’ve been in business for 50 years and want to bring a positive, family-friendly restaurant to Sturry.”

Mr Papa said that because the Welsh Harp pub was also an eating establishment, he was not aware he needed permission to change its use to a restaurant. But a row is also brewing about the new colour of the building. Mr Bellamy added:

“It is in an extremely prominent position in the Sturry conservation area. For it to have been made to look ridiculous and hideous, such as it has, is entirely unacceptable. The parish council and many residents of Sturry hope the city council will act quickly and robustly to remedy the situation, as with every passing day the opening of the business moves closer, and once it’s open it then becomes even harder for the proper action to be taken.”

On the parish council’s Facebook page some residents branded the building ‘an eye sore’ while others welcomed it as ‘quirky’ and ‘different’. City council spokesman Rob Davies said:

“There was a planning application which we refused. We have now opened an enforcement case and are investigating, but it’s very early in that process so we can’t say more at this stage,”

Herne Bay Gazette, June 12th 2014

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