New bar still needs permission

SOHAM restaurant owner Dave Dawkins has had a grilling from council officers for running a bar in a building where beer had been served for almost 400 years. Dave believed that as his restaurant was on the site of the White Hart pub from 1510 to the late

SOHAM restaurant owner Dave Dawkins has had a grilling from council officers for running a bar in a building where beer had been served for almost 400 years.

Dave believed that as his restaurant was on the site of the White Hart pub from 1510 to the late 1800s he was covered by ancient planning law.

So when he decided to convert the back bedroom at Poppies Bistro in Churchgate Street into Marco's Bar he thought he wouldn't need any more planning permission.

He organised a barbecue and guests gathered in the bar and outside in the garden.


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But just days later East Cambridgeshire District Council's enforcement officer, Trevor Eagle, warned him that he must apply for planning permission or face enforcement action.

Dave, who gained planning permission for his bistro when it opened 15 months ago, said: "This building was used as a pub for around 400 years. I was told originally I should apply for planning permission to bring the whole building to year zero in terms of the planning law. I understood it wasn't an essential requirement but I thought I was being a model citizen by dotting the Is and crossing the Ts.

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"Changing the bedroom into a bar is just a case of altering the name of the room on the plans. But now it's going to cost me to apply for more planning permission."

But an East Cambridgeshire District Council said: "Mr Dawkins was advised that the property had seemingly not been a hostelry since the last century, and that converting it into a restaurant did require planning permission for change of use.

"Any subsequent proposals for further changes of use or alterations to other parts of the property will also need additional new planning applications put in to cover them. While an applicant might consider this to be burdensome, it is nevertheless how planning law works and is necessary to safeguard the building and its environs.

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