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Café owner set to appeal Town Hall’s planning refusal

"I’m not planning to do something that makes the street messy and noisy. It’s to provide something nice for the community."

03 September, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Kim Kunn, owner of Maison d’etre 

AN INDEPENDENT café owner is set to fight planners’ refusal to allow a shop to be converted into an eatery serving evening meals in Highbury.

Kim Kunn, owner of Maison d’etre near Highbury Corner roundabout, hopes to open up another café, but with a commercial kitchen to serve food three nights a week, at the corner of Corsica Street and Calabria Road.

But Town Hall planners have rejected the change of use proposal, saying it would cause an “unjustified loss” of retail space.

Eight objections were made by residents worried about noise, smell, waste and increased traffic on the residential street.

Ms Kunn, who has run Maison d’etre since 2011, said: “I was disappointed. The logical move is to open into a bigger space as I’ve got quite busy now. It’s a very small space.

“I’m not planning to do something that makes the street messy and noisy. It’s to provide something nice for the community. As a corner shop, I can’t see how it would survive with Sainsbury’s and Tesco nearby.”

The former Your Price Food Store, where she hopes to open the café, has remained empty since it closed in September.

With more space, Ms Kunn said a kitchen could be installed to serve small sharing plates on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, alongside organic wines.

The proposed opening times were 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday and until 10.30pm on the three evenings.

She proposes to call it Maison Bleue because of the shop’s royal blue exterior.

Ms Kunn said: “People don’t go out to get drunk on organic wine. It’s just a glass of wine. But I could not open something residents do not want me to do. I’m just doing it as I want to be part of the community.”

Calabria Road resident Richard Price said: “With branches of three major supermarkets and other small shops within a few minutes’ walk, a café is much more likely to pay its way and keep the space in use.

“The council’s refusal is well-intentioned but seems to me to be too restrictive.”

In its refusal notice, the council said: “The proposal would result in the unjustified loss of retail floorspace which provides an essential service to the community, thereby lead- ing to an inadequate provision of class A1 retail in the immediate area.”

The council did not wish to comment further.

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