Nearly 600 customers and friends petitioned for him to keep it, but restaurateur Peter Fierro has finally lost his battle to keep a fixed canopy above his Peterborough pizza restaurant. Refused planning consent by Peterborough City Council, Mr Fierro has now lost an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.
Mr Fierro had wanted to keep the canopy in place for three years but planning inspector David Reed has backed the city council decision ordering its removal from the restaurant at Fortune Buildings, Cowgate, Peterborough.
“The main issue is the effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the street scene, including the effect on the Peterborough city centre conservation area,” said Mr Reed.
He said the canopy – about 5.4 m wide and 2.6 m deep and across the frontage of Mr Fierro’s restaurant and had already been erected – “projects over the footway to provide shelter for an area of outside seating and includes ‘Pizza Parlour’ lettering on the canopy itself”.
But it was, he concluded, against the city council policy which had brightened up the area and adopted a new shopfront design guide.
“This states that new canopies should be full width, of complementary materials/colour and most importantly, within the conservation area, only fully retractable canopies or blinds will be permitted,” he said.
Mr Reed visited the area and noted Cowgate “has suffered from modern incursions particularly on the northern side of the road” but this did not justify “a lesser standard of shopfront design”.
Indeed, Mr Reed found “examples of attractive retractable canopies” at Cowgate Local, Pizza House and along the road at Cote.
“There may have been others not in use. But no other examples of fixed canopies were to be seen in the area and the appellant does not draw attention to any”.
He said the temporary covered seating area outside the Be.ar coffee shop on Cathedral Square has now been removed.
“Given this context the poor-quality, bulky and unduly prominent appeal canopy stands out in Cowgate Street as a discordant and visually intrusive feature that is detrimental to its character and appearance,” he said.
“The canopy also fails to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the city centre conservation area.
“Although the canopy is proposed to be in place for a temporary three-year period, this does not reduce the level of harm caused during that period.
“For these reasons the canopy significantly harms the character and appearance of the street scene and fails to preserve the character and appearance of the Peterborough city centre conservation area.”
He agreed that the canopy allows customers to enjoy outdoor seating in all weathers, “still important in the Covid era” and supports the viability of the independently run restaurant and strengthens the vitality and economy of the city centre as a whole.
“However, these benefits would also result from a retractable canopy in compliance with council policy and no explanation is provided as to why a permanent canopy is needed or was erected instead,” he said.
“The benefits of the fixed (as opposed to retractable) canopy are thus minimal and significantly outweighed by the harm that has been identified and the resultant conflict with the development plan and the requirement to at least protect the character and appearance of the conservation area.
“Although the harm to heritage assets is less than substantial, the public benefits of the canopy do not justify its erection and there is no need for a three-year trial period to reach this conclusion.”
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