A retrospective planning application for a cafe in Gairloch was approved by Highland Council last week.
The application by the Gairloch and Loch Ewe Action Forum for a retrospective partial change of use for their centre attracted 31 objections from local residents, while seven people suppored the plan.
As well as housing tourist information, exhibitions, a community shop, college classes and a local produce market, the centre began selling food and drink around a year ago. In July last year Highland Council were notified of this change of use by Gairloch Community Council and Gale were informed that they were in breach of their planning approval as the internal layout did not accord with the approved plans.
A new application was lodged in January and attracted a significant number of representations, the majority objecting to the impact the cafe would have on local restaurants as well as a lack of parking at the centre, which has already caused issues for residents in neighbouring houses. Several also noted that commercial competition is not appropriate for a charitable organisation such as Gale and that a building which was funded partially through public grants should not be running a business in competition with other local businesses. This latter complaint, however, is not regarded as applicable to a planning decision.
Following a presentation by Highland Council’s north area planning manager, Dafydd Jones, councillors voted unanimously in favour of the application. They determined that although the site would benefit from an additional three car spaces this was not possible within the confines of the site and the shortfall was considered “acceptable” in this instance.
As a condition, the number of covers within the cafe is limited to 20 at any time and any variation will require approval of the planning authority.