Ferring cafe’s expansion plans turned down as a ‘jump too far’

An artists' impression of the expanded Bluebird Cafe in Ferring. Picture: OM Architectural Design SUS-180924-124400001
An artists' impression of the expanded Bluebird Cafe in Ferring. Picture: OM Architectural Design SUS-180924-124400001

A popular Ferring cafe’s expansion plans have been turned down by councillors due to concerns about traffic, parking and visual impact.

The Bluebird Café in The Strand wanted permission for a two-storey extension to its existing building so it can provide extra seating and kitchen areas to cope with increasing demand.

Bluebird Cafe at Ferring. Pic Steve Robards SR1824897 SUS-180921-165210001

Bluebird Cafe at Ferring. Pic Steve Robards SR1824897 SUS-180921-165210001

Owner Peter Garret said: “We aspire to further establish the cafe as the central attraction of the village, increasing eco-friendly trade, sustainable growth while supporting the local community with additional amenities.

“I want the Bluebird to be a business Ferring village and the locals can be proud of, to welcome tourists to our beautiful coastline and for our families and children to enjoy for years to come.”

But objectors raised concerns about the ability of the current access to cope with extra traffic, parking problems and both the design of the extension and its impact on the character of the area.

The application was unanimously refused by Arun District Council’s development control committee today (Wednesday February 13).

Mr Garret told the committee members how the proposed development aimed to make more effective and efficient use of the existing site, while a large part of the plans was to enclose the current outdoor seating area.

He described how he was willing to sit down with other interested parties to improve the car parking and access into the site.

But Stephen Abbott, from Ferring Parish Council, felt the application had understated the access safety issues and visually sensitive environmental setting of the cafe.

Meanwhile Ed Miller, from the Ferring Conservation Group, raised concerns about the blind bend at the site’s exit, a lack of detail about the provision of extra parking spaces and the design of the extension.

He added: “Ferring is still a quiet village and it is a quiet beach and it is away from the main roads.”

Tim Rodway, planning agent for the scheme, pointed out that the extension was within the existing hardstanding area of the cafe and argued the expanded business would be a ‘highly attractive addition to the coastal scene in Ferring’.

One of the local members Roger Elkins (Con, Ferring) disagreed, saying: “This is out of character. The size would be detrimental to the amenity of residents locally.

“It lacks the infrastructure that such a development would need.”

Objectors’ concerns were echoed by committee members.

Colin Oliver-Redgate (Con, Ferring) said there were logical reasons to upgrade the business, but suggested the infrastructure ‘is not so accommodating’.

If approved he suggested the parking problems would be ‘quite unbearable’ for residents, while people came to Ferring to ‘enjoy a quiet village’.

He added: “While I admire anyone with ambition to expand their business this is not quite the right place. There are other sites that have better infrastructure.”

Jim Brooks (Ind, Marine) felt the highways issues might be ‘solvable’, but added: “It’s just too big in this case. It’s a jump too far. Regrettably I will be supporting the officers’ recommendation [to refuse].”

Barbara Oakley (Con, Middleton-on-Sea) added: “I think the design is extremely attractive. Unfortunately I think it’s infinitely more suited to Worthing or Bognor seafront than it is to Ferring which is a village.”

Committee chair Ricky Bower (Con, East Preston) concluded: “I’m impressed by the building they are presenting, but the access and the car parking is the most appalling concoction.”