Former Whitby cafe owner refused permission to open tea garden for walkers and cyclists from her home near Staithes

An expert baker who was forced to close her popular cafe during the pandemic has appealed to government inspectors after National Park planners rejected her ambition to open tea garden outside her home for a second time.

The tea garden is aimed at visitors on their way to Staithes

Lorraine Howell has challenged the North York Moors National Park Authority’s finding that serving refreshments to up to 16 walkers and cyclists in the garden of her home in Dalehouse, on the edge of Staithes, would unacceptably impact on her neighbours.

Planning documents submitted to the authority state Mrs Howell has a licensed home bake and delivery service that she set up after social distancing measures forced her to close her cafe in Whitby.

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The papers state Mrs Howell is passionate about catering and after lockdown began delivering her baking to locals in the area “which has been much appreciated”.

The documents state the proposal would see an alternative venture which would seek to cater to walkers and cyclists to avoid creating parking issues in the area.

The application states: “Many tourists, walkers and cyclists pass through Dalehouse using the nearby network of public rights of ways, roads and the popular Cleveland Way which follows the coast.

“Dalehouse has a sense of calm as a quiet place. The applicant intends to maintain the sense of tranquillity and the proposal does not in any way threaten this due to the very small scale

nature of the development that will not generate intensive activity or traffic levels.”

Dozens of villagers, including several residents living close to her property, have supported the proposal, saying it would prove a popular community hub as well as a destination for visitors.

In a letter of support Justine Balfour said: “The residents in the village and surrounding hamlets do not have any where locally that they can walk to, where they can meet and socialise during the day.

“There are a number of people locally, in particular elderly people, who would benefit from a place to meet, to support their emotional and mental health well being, and reduce the risk of social isolation.”

Elizabeth Everard of Church Street, Staithes, said: “I walk through Dalehouse on my daily walk. It would be lovely to be able to have refreshments outside, where l feel safe. Having visited her cafe when in Whitby I know delicious her food is.”

John Hamlin of Darlington Terrace, Staithes, added: “Lainey has a great local reputation for baking all her own food and her homemade jams and chutneys. We strongly support the application.”

However, one resident and three people connected to the nearby Fox and Hounds pub have objected to the proposal, claiming it could impact on their privacy, create parking issues or hamper their business.

Objector Paul Manship wrote: “The pub already serves teas, coffees and food, and a new outlet only 150 yards away in such a small hamlet would impact our trade, and thus threaten the jobs of myself and other long-serving staff.

“Parking is already at a premium for the 14 or so dwellings, and any increase would hinder the tractors, combines, balers etc which frequently come through. The grass verges would soon be in a terrible mess.”

Park authority planning officers said the proposed tea garden would be separated only by a low level stone wall from a neighbour’s garden.

The officers concluded: “It is considered that a tea garden, providing 16 covers would result in a significant increase in noise and activity levels that would have a detrimental impact on the amenities of the neighbouring occupiers.”

They said while Mrs Howell’s second application for the scheme had seen parking spaces removed and a bike rack introduced, it is considered that it will be very difficult to actually prevent customers travelling by car”.

The officers stated: “In the absence of adequate on-site parking space, the proposed development would be likely to result in vehicles being parked outside the site on the county highway to the detriment of the free flow of traffic and road safety.”