Popular food and leisure hub plans win over planners

Vision of food and leisure hub in Newnham Street, Ely

Plans for a food and leisure hub in Newnham Street, Ely have been given the go-ahead by planners. Pictured: an idea of how the hub could look. - Credit: ApplebyBlanco

Plans to transform a former double-glazing centre into a food and leisure hub  have been approved by East Cambridgeshire District Council.

The project - revealed earlier this year - won overwhelming support from the public. 

Silver Oak Coffee owners Bruce Garside and Susanne Stent first submitted plans to convert the centre and former yard on Newnham Street, Ely earlier this year. 

Since then, the firm has attracted strong backing for their idea which they say would become an “exciting and vibrant new meeting point”

East Cambs planning case officer Rachael Forbes supported the plans and feels these would enhance the area by providing something Ely does not currently have. 

“The proposal will provide an outdoor street food destination which Ely currently does not have in a permanent form,” said Ms Forbes. 

“It will provide a leisure/community facility which is an appropriate use within a city centre.” 

3D image of food and leisure hub Newnham Street, Ely

An idea of what the food and leisure hub in Newnham Street, Ely could look like. - Credit: ApplebyBlanco

The food and leisure hub, which aims to hire 18 full-time staff, includes a bar serving cocktails and other drinks, and an indoor children’s play area. 

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A parish councillor had also given their praise for the plans, saying they will “provide opportunities for other retailers, whose clientele will have good reason to stay rather than look elsewhere.” 

Ms Forbes said that even though the hub would fall outside of the city centre boundary, it was unlikely an appropriate site within the boundary would be found. 

“35a Newnham Street is currently a vacant mixed-use site; there has been no commercial use for approximately five years,” she said. 

The Yard proposed signage for Newnham Street, Ely

An idea of what proposed signage is planned for a new food and leisure hub in Newnham Street, Ely. - Credit: ApplebyBlanco

“The site is already in mixed use with an element of retail outside of the town centre boundary.” 

On behalf of Silver Oak Coffee, ApplebyBlanco told planners that using converted containers and off-the-shelf sheds will create “a vibrant, dynamic, pop-up feel to it”. 

In a report, Ms Forbes said there will be converted shipping containers for bar and food service, as well as sheds for dining-in and a coffee bar. 

“The introduction of temporary structures would mean that the development would be easily reversible,” she concluded.  

“The benefits of the proposal are considered to outweigh the harms.” 

Planners advised opening hours of 9am until 9pm Monday to Thursday and 10pm Friday to Sunday for the venue.