Cafe says pub fears are ‘utterly ungrounded’

The cafe at Gildredge Park
The cafe at Gildredge Park
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The owners of the cafe in Gildredge Park have said some residents concerns about ‘a pub in the park’ are unfounded.

An article in the Herald on Friday (October 3), detailed residents fears the cafe could become a pub in the park, because of a recent retrospective planning application submitted to the council.

But the owners of the cafe, which is part of Tennis in the Park, said this is ‘ludicrous’ and have since seen hundreds of support letters sent in to the council.

“The current planning application is nothing to do with alcohol or extending operating hours,” said Francis Mackie the club manager.

“It is instead designed to formalise the use of the pavilion as a cafe.

“Tennis in the Park currently operates in line with its lease conditions as a ‘community tennis facility’ offering ‘activities incidental thereto’.

“This latter, relatively loose, condition is now not really appropriate given the enormous popularity of the cafe.

“The suggestion that the club wants to become a pub is frankly ludicrous.”

The existing alcohol license allows the cafe to be open daily from 9am to 10.30pm with alcohol only being allowed to be served between 12pm and 8pm. However, on ten occasions a year, alcohol may be served till 10.30pm. To accommodate these times, the planning application proposal allows opening till 11.30pm.

Gemma Mackie, a director of the club said, “Our licensing conditions and the club’s obvious set up as a facility orientated towards young families make any fears of a ‘pub in the park’ utterly ungrounded.

“Anyone who actually visits us would know the cafe is only normally open from 9am to 6.30pm.

“We love Gildredge Park and have personally invested in improving it. The club has created a fantastic social hub for the local community, allowing people to meet, relax and pursue an active lifestyle.

“It is very frustrating to face negativity based on ignorance and what appears to be a simple fear of change.”

Since the article, owners said there had been ‘overwhelming support’ for the club’s application from its users.

Lizzie Legate of The Goffs, said, “Tennis in the Park has become a popular community facility that has greatly enhanced Gildredge Park. The objections appear to be based on inaccurate assumptions and I, together with many other parents with young families, urge the council to grant the planning application.”

To view the application, visit www.planning.eastbourne.gov.uk with the reference 140895.