Support grows for Ryton community cafe threatened with demolition

Fed and Watered near Ryton has been threatened with demolition. Credit: LDRS

A petition has amassed over 2,500 supporters to save a community cafe threatened with demolition following a council planning decision.

Fed and Watered, which forms part of Jack and Jo’s Plant Nursery near Ryton, was built during the pandemic but retrospective planning permission was refused by Gateshead Council in May this year when the planning committee concluded the cafe infringed on the greenbelt and poses highway concerns.

A petition to save the venue was launched following the decision and amassed over 800 signatures in under 24 hours. It has now reached 2,500 and an appeal has been launched against the council's initial decision.

The cafe currently remains open for business.

Gateshead Council had concerns over the road next to the cafe. Credit: Google

Owner Joanne Stanton told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I don’t understand. We cover everything on the council’s mission statement and the levelling up policy, we cover everything. 

“Where is our backing, why isn’t there any, like when the Government gave us what was needed during Covid? We help with the scouts, schools, loads of children from lots of different areas.”

Local residents have expressed their dismay at the council's decision. Louise, a Ryton local and mother to three children with special educational or health needs, said her daughter had gained confidence by taking up work experience at the cafe.

“My eldest daughter has special needs and she has been struggling with her mental health as a result of bullying," she said. "Joanne offered her work experience which has made so much difference.

“She helps out with scout meetings and if it ever gets too much they let her go and work with the plants. She has gone from arriving at 1pm and asking to come home, to stay until 4pm, all because Joanne understands what it is like for young people like that.

“My daughter’s experience before is she would leave me and get bullied. We wanted her to come here and realise that people can be nice.

“For someone like myself, I can bring my children and not have them judged. I can come here with my children and relax.

“This place is not doing any harm and Joanne is doing good work. How can you object to something like this?”

Linda Bullows, 62, a volunteer for the local charity Brighten Ryton, added: “I am very disappointed in the council’s stance in all this. They do so much for the community. If you look at their notice board there’s scouts, the cycle club.

“I have lived here all my life and it’s lovely having these local businesses and it’s so disappointing the council is not supporting them. It used to be a scrap yard and they have made it into a lovely place.

“The staff here are lovely, they are all different age groups, and if it goes those people are going to lose their jobs. I feel bad that our local councillors voted against it.”

Responding to residents' concerns, a Gateshead Council spokesperson said: “The café and associated buildings were built without planning permission and work to the premises continued following the refusal of planning permission. Planning permission has previously been refused and the appeal upheld for a similar scheme.

“The planning committee considered the revised application and held a site visit and listened to the applicants’ case but considered the development to have an unacceptable impact on the green belt and also had significant concerns about highway safety. We have now taken enforcement action for the buildings and structures to be removed.

“As those decisions have been appealed, we will not comment on that matter further at this stage. We’re always keen to support businesses where we can, and officers did work with the applicant to try to find solutions to the planning concerns, but in this case, the location was not considered suitable.

“We would always be willing to help a community cafe set up in an appropriate location.”

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