Row at Wilmslow Restaurant ‘unlicensed’ outdoor dining area
An argument has broken out over the outdoor dining area of a restaurant in Cheshire, which the council says is ‘unlicensed’. The Sotto restaurant in Wilmslow opened the Sotto Garden last summer after Covid restrictions were lifted, allowing it to bring customers back while following the government’s open-air only rule for hospitality venues.
But the restaurant has since been told by Cheshire East Council that the canopy and terrace, being created on land off Warham Street, is not permitted as it does not have planning permission. A retrospective planning application has been filed with a decision to be made.
A petition has now launched on Change.UK, who says the council “is willing to refuse” the planning request and calls on people to support the restaurant. He also claimed that a refusal would “put Sotto in financial ruin”.
READ MORE: Fire near Malpas farm store believed to have been started deliberately
The statement on the petition reads: “Sotto Restaurant was launched in April 2018. We started the restaurant with all of our savings. We struggled but kept our heads above water with our amazing community and the We have struggled massively throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, but have worked as hard as we can to serve discounted takeaway food to our lovely Cheshire locals and residents.
“When the Covid restrictions were lifted, we opened Sotto Garden. Our beautiful terrace allowed our friends and family to socialize safely thanks to its outdoor plan, in accordance with the Covid restrictions “at the time”. We had great success in the summer of 2021 and Sotto Garden has quickly become a new hotspot for people in Cheshire.
“We were able to create many jobs and lifelong opportunities for so many people who loved working for us in Sotto. We bought the community together in our unique and safe setting and thrived on our amazing local community; who we we sure can also agree that Sotto Garden was a great addition to Wilmslow’s restaurant and bar scene.
“Many people are aware but the Cheshire East Planning team intend to refuse our development application for the outer Sotto Garden area as they claimed it was a waste of Recognized open space.The green space was located outside the restaurant and was never used for anything recreational or by anyone across Wilmslow.
“We transformed an unused muddy plot into a thriving community space that people could enjoy seven days a week. The green plot is also still very, very green! With thriving plants, trees and bushes from every angle.
“The terrace was also custom designed to accommodate each tree that was already located in the green space. We believe that the creation of Sotto Garden is a better use of this space, it can be enjoyed by all.
“We made sure that was key to creating Sotto Garden. We thought so much about keeping the environment and space ‘green’ for everyone to enjoy, making sure that no tree is removed or altered.
“The decision will not only put Sotto in financial ruin, but also for the many people we employ at Sotto Garden. It (will put) so many people out of work because their workplace has been made physically impossible to enter through a fence. metal surrounding the terrace erected without knowing it, overnight.
“We struggle to understand Cheshire East’s position and hope our Cheshire community can come together and help us spread the word to help save Sotto Garden.”
A spokesman for the authority said: ‘The council has not closed off the outdoor area of this restaurant – nor erected a fence around it. The development is unauthorized and the owner has applied for retrospective planning permission, which is currently being assessed by council for decision.
Under temporary rules introduced by the government to support the hospitality sector during the pandemic, venues have been allowed to put up temporary structures without planning permission in a bid to support the reopening of businesses after the lockdown. This “temporary right” has not been in effect since the end of 2021.
NEWSLETTER: Sign up for CheshireLive emailed straight to your inbox here