Warwick restaurant owner humbled by support of community after planning application rejection

A petition to keep the pergola has also been set up by a customer

The owner of a restaurant said he is humbled by the support shown by the community after he had a planning application rejected last week.

John Martin, the owner of the Dough and Brew, had put up a pergola to allow diners to sit outside after having the capacity of his restaurant halved by Covid-19 restrictions.

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At Warwick District Council's planning committee meeting last week the application was refused because the structure was deemed 'unsuitable for the conservation area'.

An artist’s impression of what the pergola is hoped to look like eventually. Photo provided by Dough and Brew

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"The build was started perhaps naively without fully understanding the planning requirements and we have complied with the council's stop orders which is why it wasn’t finished.

"But we do understand that rules have to be followed and it’s never been our intention to knowingly flout them.

"While it’s disappointing, we intend to work with the council to resolve this so the council and our customers are happy and the business can continue."

Underneath the pergola outside Dough and Brew in Warwick. Photo provided by Dough and Brew

The story shared by the Courier last Friday (October 23) prompted a wave of messages of support on social media for the team at the restaurant.

John said: "We had 15 objections at consultation stage, we also had more than 150 letters of support from residents and businesses, suggesting that lots of people understand that we’re simply doing as much as we can to try to adapt to the changing situation, even if perhaps we’ve got it slightly wrong on this occasion.

"Seeing such a groundswell of support for a local independent business is hugely heartening and we really appreciate it, including the support from Cllr Terry Morris who attempted to get a temporary approval under the latest legislation."

When asked about the plans going forward John said: "In anything we do, we always try to work with the council rather than against them, and plan to do the same in this situation so we can find a solution that works for everyone."

The pergola outside Dough and Brew in Warwick. Photo provided by Dough and Brew

Since the story broke, one Dough and Brew customer set up an online petition to keep the pergola.

As of Wednesday afternoon (October 28) the petition had more than 900 signatures.

John added: "The petition was started by a customer, Manda Hurley, who felt strongly enough about the council’s decision to put together a petition and it has gathered real pace and is growing all the time.

"It’s incredible to see how much support there is out there and humbling to know so many people care but we also recognise there are other views out there and all we want to do is work to find a solution that is acceptable for everyone involved.

The pergola outside Dough and Brew in Warwick. Photo provided by Dough and Brew

"As everyone knows, these are incredibly difficult times for independent businesses.

"Since March we’ve been doing everything we can to try to keep our heads above water, constantly adapting our offering, thinking outside the box and trying to come up with ways of maximising the space we have despite losing a huge amount of our business.

"We won’t always get it right but we just want people to know that we are simply fighting to stay afloat."