PLANS to create a unique fine dining experience in a North Yorkshire village are being recommended for the green light - despite concerns it will lead to traffic gridlock.
Two Michelin-starred chef Michael Wignall and his wife Johanna and business partners James Wellock and his wife Josephine took over the Angel Inn in Hetton in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park last September.
They plan to open up the gastro-pub’s small rooms to a more open-plan dining experience and to create “a food destination of national and international renown” at the Wine Cave opposite, which will be renamed Cove.
However some locals fear the changes will lead to gridlock in a village, already popular with walkers and cyclists, and where many have converted their gardens to parking spaces.
In a written objection, one resident said: “This is complete nonsense and would lead to absolute gridlock. If only a few residents decide to park on the road as is their right, then the Angel’s situation would be impossible.”
Chairman of Hetton parish meeting Alan Horn said some locals were concerned there would be a repeat of the parking problems of 30 years ago when the Angel was extremely popular.
At the time it had been resolved by providing parking behind the Wine Cave - most recently a wedding reception venue.
But the latest plans involve removing the rear car park with the loss of 16 spaces. Two will be added to the front, but overall there will be less off street parking.
Mr Horn said the widest part of the village was outside the Angel, and the rest was single file traffic, and when it gets busy “it will be a bottleneck of traffic trying to manoeuvre out the way.”
However Mr Wignall said they were not planning to open Cove on Sundays: “There won't be two operations on the busiest traffic day of the week. A lot of people get taxis to places.
“We won’t be doing 200 covers and people queuing out of the door. It won’t be that sort of establishment. It’s somewhere we want people to enjoy and sit down for a couple of hours.
“I want the pub to be super relaxed, dog friendly, cyclist and walker friendly.
"Across the road I want it to be a little bit more international, a real experience.
“I want people to think ‘Oh my God, what have I eaten there, it’s amazing.’ These days people want to be challenged in a nice way. They want to experience something really special.”
He added: “At the end of the day it could have been sold to a chain and it could be £10 for a main course and be parked full of cars. If you bring a two star chef to place it brings with it a certain clientele.”
Amongst those backing the plans is Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, who wrote in to praise the owners for building on the Angel’s reputation as one of the first gastro pubs with “ambitions of excellence in the Michelin star concept.”
The plans go before the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority next Tuesday and are recommended for approval.
Head of development management Richard Graham said Government guidance was that they should only refuse planning permission if the impact on the road network was going to be severe.
“We had a look at it and we don’t think the impact will be severe. Yes, there will be less parking off street, but we don’t think the knock on will be severe.”