Licensed coffee shop plans grind to a halt

The empty Bauhaus on Ecclesall Road, Sheffield
The empty Bauhaus on Ecclesall Road, Sheffield

Community representatives have won a campaign to halt proposals for a licensed coffee shop off Ecclesall Road for the second time in two years.

They objected to a revised application for a venture called Couch near the corner of Thompson Road, next to Yankees restaurant, concerned about noise and other disturbance, especially at night.

Now the council has decided that there would be too much disturbance for neighbours, and refused permission for a venture accommodating up to 40 customers inside the premises and 38 on a forecourt, open seven days a week from 7am to 11.30pm.

It rejected a similar application last year.

The revised scheme reignited controversy over the number of bars, restaurants and cafes on Ecclesall Road, with critics claiming the area is already saturated. Residents have consistently opposed businesses staying open late into the night on the grounds of protecting their peace and quiet. Concerns have also been raised about too many shops being lost.

Objections to the application for Couch, for premises formerly occupied by a furniture store, Bauhuas, were lodged by the Botanical Gate Community Association, the Botanical Area Community Association, Broomhill Green Party and nearby residents.

One business that complained was Manhattan Coffee House, across the road, which has since closed.

Applicants Sash Ventures said they were looking to open a shop selling coffees from around the world and items such as sandwiches and cakes “in a very pleasant non-conformist atmosphere”.

There would be no cooking on the premises other than a bread making oven. The sale of alcohol would be “ancillary”, and a licence had already been secured which has conditions to protect neighbours.

But the council rejected the scheme on planning grounds, pointing to the prospect of “noise and disturbance” for nearby residents and referring to an unsuccessful appeal to the Government after an application for a hot food takeaway in Ecclesall Road was turned down.

Despite accepting that there was background noise on Ecclesall Road, council officers were concerned about noise from customers inside and outside the premises and when they were coming and going. Limited on-street parking could also create problems.

Mike West, who chairs the Botanical Gate Community Association, said residents were not against restaurants per se, but they wanted to stop too many shops being pushed out, trying to protect Ecclesall Road as a district retail centre.