Cafe owner 'overwhelmed' by support for contested outdoor terrace
- Credit: Submitted/Archant
A petition to save a seating area outside a popular North Walsham cafe has gathered more than 700 signatures in two days - amid signs the decking might now be retained.
Earlier this year, the owners of the Shambles, a bistro in a listed building on Market Street, installed the wooden terrace for people who wanted to eat outside during the coronavirus restrictions.
However, as the structure was put up without planning permission, North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) asked the business to remove it by the end of October.
Last week, when this news reached the cafe's customers, one of them, Vida Cannell, set up a petition saying that the decking was an asset to the town and important for vulnerable people who feel nervous about socialising indoors.
By Tuesday (October 19), almost 800 people had signed the petition and a spokesperson for the council said: "NNDC are working constructively with the cafe operator ensuring public safety, vitality of the business and the wider historic town centre are maintained."
Rebecca Lysaght, who co-owns the cafe with her husband David, said: "It's touching and overwhelming the massive amount of support from the local community. People have obviously taken it to heart.
"I am really warmed by it. It's a nice thought there is so much support and good will out there. It's lovely to have a positive thing, with the voice of the people being listened to for once."
She said she has been in conversation with the council's planning office. "Given the rising numbers of Covid cases and huge public support, I think we will be able come to some sort of compromise," she said.
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"We have always found NNDC to be incredibly supportive," she added.
Mrs Lysaght said they had installed the decking so that vulnerable people could eat at the cafe while coronavirus restrictions were still in force.
More generally, the bistro enjoyed an "incredibly busy summer with lots of tourists," she said.
"There was massive demand and staff worked their socks off. It's back to normal level since the end of the summer holidays but we're still thriving."
The Lysaghts bought the building - North Walsham's oldest - in 2014. After fitting out the ground floor and the front room upstairs it opened as a cafe in November 2018.