Welsh planners turn down cycle cafe for lack of car parking spaces

A cycle cafe in Wales has been refused planning permission because it doesn’t have enough car parking space.

Kelly Eroglu wanted to open a coffee shop by ponds on an industrial estate in Llantarnam in Cwmbran, south-east Wales. In her planning application she said she would provide spaces to park bikes but not cars, and noted that there were four bus stops within 15-yards (14 metres) of her proposed site.

On-street parking is also available and she had negotiated dedicated staff parking 350 metres away.

“With the proposed location of the coffee shop being at the edge of the industrial estate and within easy reach of several housing estates, the main target customers will be foot and not car-based,” she wrote in her application.

But councillors voted against the plan this week after opposition from the highways and transportation department at Torfaen council. In their objection they wrote: “There is no off-street parking available within the site and extensive on-street parking already takes place on the streets surrounding the site and in Llantarnam park as a whole and any additional vehicles parked on street would only exacerbate an already unsatisfactory situation.”

Chris Boardman, the former Olympic champion turned walking and cycling commissioner for Greater Manchester, criticised the decision, saying: “It’s about no one wanting to take responsibility for actually controlling bad parking. If you’re not going to tackle it, then your only solution is to make sure there’s loads. Which means we all stay locked into a car culture.”

A petition has been launched to support Eroglu, a former air steward at British Airways, who said she had been looking forward to cycling to the cafe herself. “For so many years I had to fly to work and it would have been so nice to ride my bike to the cafe,” she said.

She said the planning refusal contradicted proposals to get more people cycling in Wales: “It’s crazy because the Welsh government have prioritised £38m to improve walking and cycling within Wales. I want to do the first e-bike charging station at my cafe too.”

Eroglu, who planned healthy cooking classes at the cafe for teenagers as well as wellbeing courses, is to appeal to the Welsh inspectorate.

“I am really hoping they can see the beauty in this venture,” she said. “The refusal left me extremely disappointed. However I feel amazing with the amount of support I have received, the well wishes, the messages to keep going. That has made a bad situation into something that feels nice. No way am I giving up.”

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