Wickham Hall farmer plans new boost for Rosey Lea cafe
Expansion plans for a Bishop’s Stortford café have been enlarged further as the business eats up an ever-larger slice of the town’s catering cake.
In 2017, David Harvey was granted planning permission to build new barn-style premises on Green Belt land at his Wickham Hall farm for use by existing tenant Rosey Lea.
Former Herts and Essex High School student Leanne Gregory opened Rosey Lea in Market Square in June 2012. A second branch in former farm buildings at Wickham Hall, off Hadham Road, followed in 2014.
A statement supporting the new-build planning application to East Herts Council said: “When Rosey Lea originally occupied their unit at Wickham Hall the intention was to provide a cookery school alongside a preparation kitchen to service their other restaurants.
"However, the business has evolved and changed, and we recognise that in planning terms the business is operating as a café destination in its own right.
"It is extremely popular with, and certainly well loved by, employees and clients from the adjoining businesses at Wickham Hall and also with people using the many public rights of way that cross Mr Harvey’s farm, which are easily accessible on foot/by bike from the urban area of Bishop's Stortford.”
The new building originally proposed for Rosey Lea was a traditional timber-framed, single-storey farm building with a black weatherboard finish, with a partial courtyard facing west to provide an outdoor dining area overlooking the existing pond.
Mr Harvey now wants this external seating to become “a modest glazed extension to the west elevation of the approved café to enclose a previously approved outside seating area”. The proposal will not increase the number of covers but will enable year-round use of 63 sq m floor space.
The extension has been designed as a simple lightweight, fully-glazed structure with a metal-clad roof with roof lights, and to “have no impact on the openness or visual amenities of the Green Belt”.
A supporting statement says: “Should the council consider the scheme to constitute inappropriate development in the Green Belt, then it is contested that there are very special circumstances in this case.
“Enclosure of the outside tables to enable year-round use will ensure continued viability of this local business, which is an important and sustainably located facility for residents, business users and visitors using local rights of way.
“The café provides an important source of local employment, and therefore viable retention of this business is necessary to support economic sustainability.”
Bishop’s Stortford Town Council will be given the opportunity to comment on the plans before a final decision by East Herts Council.