Norwich pub's shock after city council refuse outdoor seating bid
- Credit: Aey Allen
The owner of a popular Norwich pub and restaurant says she has been treated unfairly after a bid to add extra outdoor seating was rejected.
Aey Allen was looking forward to welcoming customers to The Vine Thai once again for the first time in months as restrictions were eased on Monday.
In anticipation she submitted a licensing bid to Norwich City Council to add extra outdoor seating at the Dove Street venue, with a plan to reopen from Thursday, April 15.
But those plans are on hold after she was told on Friday evening that her application had been rejected, as Norfolk Police's Traffic Management Office had concerns over a lack of space for emergency vehicles to pass.
Regulations state 3.7m of space should be left to allow access for larger vehicles.
But in an earlier email seen by this newspaper, dated March 3, it was only specified that 1.5m needed to be left to allow pedestrians and wheelchair users to pass through.
"I thought they meant 1.5m in the middle of the road so we had plenty," Mrs Allen said.
"I'm sure they can picture Dove Street because we are next to them [the council], basically. I don't want to be unkind to the council, but I feel I haven't been treated fairly."
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The decision left her with the difficult task of informing customers and staff that they would not be able to reopen as planned.
"I didn't know how to put it. I didn't sleep well. I got all my staff together on Sunday and told them we couldn't open on Thursday, and they couldn't believe it.
"It was very difficult. We are like a little family here – they are my children. It's not all about the business or money, but we want to get back on with our lives again."
A city council spokesperson said: "We will continue to support local businesses as much as possible, including ways that they can safely add outdoor drinking and dining options to their business offer.
"We’re working with the owner of The Vine to see if a solution can be found to enable them to open safely.
"We treat each application on a case-by-case basis following a consultation process with partner agencies, so we are more than happy to continue to work with this business to explore suitable options."