Man ‘almost fell off his bike’ after seeing restaurant’s makeover

Controversial alterations to a restaurant in a posh conservation area which almost made a councillor fall off his bike in awe have been given a retrospective green light by planners following a tide of local support. The unauthorised glazed dining area with an imposing steel framework resulted in 67 letters to planners in support of the Cibo Italian restaurant in Hale village.

Trafford’s planning and development management committee was advised by officers to refuse the application for the building in the Grade II listed Hale Station Buildings, which owners said may result in its closure. But councillors reacted positively following a plea to the committee by nearby resident Joe Shammah on behalf of other villagers.

He told the committee: “Not only is there significant public support for the application, but all our representations have raised valid planning grounds for it to be supported. I walk regularly walk past Cibo over four times a day visiting locations in the village.

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“Like the significant number of residents that support the application, we consider that the proposal has a positive impact on the appearance and our enjoyment of the Conservation Area and is of high-quality design. We also consider that it adds vibrancy and interest to the streetscene, support and enhances the vitality of our village centre, supports sustainable local employment and provides an invaluable facility that is well used by the Hale and wider Trafford community.”

He continued: “Your officer report tells us that it doesn’t consider our village centre to be suffering. As residents who use and engage with local business owners, we would like to think we are well-placed to know that it is.

“There has been a 50 per cent increase in vacancies in the centre alone since the application was submitted and this is 40pc higher than at any other survey over the last 20 years. Cibo is the jewel in the crown for the hospitality trade in our village.”

Responding, Green councillor Michael Welton told his colleagues: “I’ve never really noticed this building before in Hale. “But when I rode round the corner on my bike, I almost fell off. I though: ‘wow, I want to go there’.”

He went on: “Cibo has made a significant contribution to the area. I think it’s within the remit of this committee to support the large amount of people who really enjoy it. If we are going to refuse it we are going to have to give a clear idea of how this restaurant doesn’t contribute to the conservation area.”

LibDem councillor Meena Minnis agreed: “I don’t think this a negative. [The restaurant] has a positive impact. I think what they’ve done is very good. It makes the place somewhere people want to go.”

An officers’ report had said the proposal ‘is considered to appear unduly prominent and the retention of the proposed roof terrace, with canopy, balustrade and associated furniture, would significantly obscure the upper level of the [Victorian] building and its significance within the conservation area’. The proposal would therefore result in moderate harm to the aesthetic and historic significance of the landmark positive contributor building and the contribution that the site makes to the Hale Station Conservation Area.”

The report also rubbished claims from the restaurant owner that it may have to close if the retrospective permission was refused.

“If the business is not viable, it should be a matter for the business owner to review their costs and economies of scale, rather than the council to have to approve an unsympathetic and harmful addition to the building,” it said.

Coun Bilal Babar agreed with Coun Welton, saying: “There is no detrimental impact to the locality at large [as a result of the restaurant’s alterations].”

However, chairman of the committee Coun Barry Winstanley said: “I objected to this when it was first put forward and it goes way beyond anything that we approved.

“It jars. There’s a contradiction between this and the rest of the consideration area, especially the station.”

However, the retrospective application was granted by seven votes to five.


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