Planning application 17/00480/P, 17 Market Place, North Berwick
Change of use (class1 to class 3)

North Berwick Community Council (NBCC) discussed this applications at their recent meeting. It is fair to say that it was a detailed and wide ranging discussion. Our comments, therefore reflect our concerns with this specific application and also regarding our town centre in general.

In principle, NBCC would be concerned with any development that reduces the retail capacity for NB town centre. It is often referred to as a “thriving” High Street and although cafes and food outlets play an important role in this, we feel that a balance must be maintained. In this case, however, the previous history of 17 Market Place, including a period as a restaurant before reverting to retail, does suggest a certain level of fluidity in usage. NBCC, therefore, do not object in principle to a change of use. We do, however, object to this application on the grounds of its effect on the surrounding neighbours.

The planning application states that the business opening hours will be from 6am until 11pm. This was felt to be excessive and unjustifiable especially as it was reported that restrictions on opening hours have been applied to other, similar businesses in the High Street. North Berwick town centre has a high density of (occupied) residential homes in Market Place, High Street, Forth Street and it was felt that the long opening hours would cause significant nuisance to such residents in terms of noise and increased traffic (pedestrian as well as vehicle), particularly in the early morning and throughout the evening. NBCC felt that three aspects of this should be considered –

1. Customers
It is worth noting that as there are no other unlicensed premises open until 11pm, it is almost inevitable that this will become a central meeting place for young people. The benefit provided by such a facility would be most welcome, North Berwick is sadly lacking in sufficient provision for young people, but the cost to neighbours of siting this within such a closed, residential space is, in our opinion, significantly greater.

2. Vehicle access
The Planning Statement accompanying the application does not give sufficient detail regarding deliveries and waste removal. There is no information on when the daily delivery will take place, volume of deliveries and the method of transporting from vehicle to premises. NBCC were concerned that the use of wheeled cages, refrigerated vehicles etc would generate significant noise, especially in the early morning and/or evening when the potential for noise nuisance is greatest.
Similarly, the method of waste disposal, when this will occur, how regularly and how waste will be stored is unclear from the application. All of this must be managed to minimise any impact on neighbours. In addition, NBCC are also concerned with the management of takeaway waste. Many of our current takeaways take responsibility for ensuring their customers’ waste is disposed of appropriately. This includes regular litter picks and monitoring of nearby bins. NBCC would like to encourage the applicant to develop, alongside ELC, a responsible waste and litter strategy currently missing from the application.

3. External seating
NBCC discussed this aspect of the application and raised concerns regarding where this seating would be sited as the surrounding pavements are very narrow. Market Place is a well used, 2-way road which already exhibits problems with access, parking and vehicles “cutting corners”. It is impossible to see how external seating can be provided safely. In addition, allowing customers to sit/smoke outside of the building until 11pm will inevitably generate noise. A further concern was raised in that those neighbours immediately above the premisies will have to negotiate through the seating and/or any people who may be using them. This was felt to be potentially intimidating and an unfair restriction on their access.

NBCC, and indeed ELC, recognise that a thriving North Berwick High Street is essential to maintain the town’s attractiveness for those who live, work and visit here. It is often referred to as having a great mix of independent shops. NBCC discussions raised this issue and, although in this case, another national chain opening a cafe here may not be of specific concern, perhaps the time may come when it will. In the meantime, NBCC hope that ELC continue to work to support local businesses.

On behalf of NBCC
Hilary Smith