Catering wars as converted horsebox trailer takes on National Trust 

Catering wars at Wicken Fen

The Docky Cafe at Wicken Fen and the pre-converted horsebox trailer ready to become a mobile catering unit close to the nature reserve - Credit: Archant

A woman from Wicken has won permission to use a converted horse box outside her home to run a seven day a week mobile catering business.  

Miloslava Myslikova was granted a licence to operate despite objectors – including the National Trust.  

Sarah Smith, general manager of Wicken Fen, argued that the mobile trailer in Lode Lane would be only 100m from their nature reserve.  

She argued there was “no space for customers of the proposed outlet” to wait, queue or eat. 

It posed a “substantial safety risk” she told East Cambridgeshire District Council.  

Customers also presented a potential obstruction to the nature reserve, there were no public litter bins, and customers would inevitably use the trust’s bins for their waste.  

“The expense of disposing of this litter will once again rest with the charity,” she said.  

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And she argued the trust’s Docky Café offered a similar range of snacks and hot drinks. 

The council’s licensing committee also heard from other objectors. 

They raised numerous objections including “visual impact, smells, noise and litter” affecting neighbours.  

The parish council said in principle they agreed with local people starting up businesses but felt the café was too close to neighbours. 

They also queried parking and access and rubbish disposal. 

However, East Cambs Council agreed to allow the catering unit to go ahead.  

Five local households co-wrote an email to the council raising their objections.  

They said whist acknowledging that “competition in itself is not grounds for objections” they felt the competition to the National Trust café was “unfair”, 

The trust pays council tax, employers cleaners for its toilets and customers of the catering unit would inevitably use them.  

“Officers received a total of four valid objections from consultees to the granting of consent,” said a report to the licensing committee. 

“Officers also received a comment they considered to be neutral from Cambridgeshire County Council highways department.” 

The highways department says unobstructed access must be maintained.  

And the county council says the owner “must be able to contain the noise produced by customers visiting, in order to not disturb the neighbours”. 

The successful applicant says she will sell sausage rolls, paninis, sandwiches, soup waffles, hot meat and ice cream.