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Community cafe is given the go-ahead
6:00am Friday 4th October 2013 in News
PLANS for a community cafe have been given the go-ahead, after a heartfelt plea from residents.
New cladding and more windows will be added to the wooden pavilion building, which currently serves sports teams. A community cafe will then move into the building temporarily, until its permanent site at the park’s larger cricket pavilion is redeveloped.
Last month, councillors rejected plans for the building, saying they were poorly designed and only a minor improvement to the current hut.
Worried the cafe was under threat, residents put forward passionate arguments to members of the development control committee on Tuesday.
Esther Cairns, who volunteers with Highcliffe Neighbourhood Group, which will run the cafe, said: “This project is bigger than the building. It’s not just about having a cup of tea. We hope to offer training to vulnerable people and those who have lost confidence by being out of work.”
The neighbourhood group has 25 people ready to volunteer in the cafe and 29 residents willing to help on occasions.
Debbie Rogan, headteacher of nearby Wickford Primary School, said: “We don’t have a field big enough for events, so the Memorial Park isverydear toour hearts.
“Bearing in mind the amount of community involvement there is for the heart of the project, we were very disappointed it was refused last time.
“The building is in disarray and detracts from the park.”
Councillors said they were unclear at the previous meeting the cafe would only be based in the small hut temporarily.
Geoff Williams, Lib Dem councillor for Nethermayne, said: “There is no argument from the council about the purpose of the building, but we weren’t made aware of all these facts last time.”
Bill Archibald, Labour councillor for Fryerns, said: “The last time we discussed this, the main criticism was the poor quality of the proposed building. Let’s face it, it’s just a shed and not a very good shed at present.
“If a community cafe is to succeed, it needs to be a place where people want to go.
“It was turned down with the best intentions to make sure what the community gets could encourage them rather than giving them a problem.”
Councillors voted unanimously to allow the cafe to run from 9am until 6pm for three years.
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