A pizza chain faces having to close its branch in London’s trendy Notting Hill after the High Court backed a planning inspector’s decision that it detracts from the vitality and viability of an area which is home to many small retailers and a street market.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea had ordered the restaurant’s closure on grounds that planning consent for a change of use had not been obtained. That decision was later upheld by the inspector on the basis that most of its clientele did not attend in person to collect their food and that those who did mainly visited at night or did not linger to enjoy the area’s restaurants, bars, independent shops or nearby market.
In challenging the decision, the pizza chain pointed out that the restaurant has eight seats for ‘eat in’ customers and attracts so much business that, even if most clients have their pizzas delivered, it still brings greater footfall to the area than the Moroccan restaurant that it replaced.
However, in upholding the inspector’s decision, the Court found that he had reached a ‘fair judgment as to the time at which the preponderance of customers do arrive and their inability effectively to support the vitality and viability of the centre’.
Taking judicial notice of his own experience of customers collecting takeaway pizzas, Mr Justice Ouseley said, “They whizz in, get their food and get out again as quickly as they can. They tend to park as close as possible, regardless of the statutory limitations and possibly regardless of the convenience of other road users.”