A brewery boss says it’s business as usual at their High Street shop despite being refused retrospective planning permission for change of use at the store.
Red Squirrel Brewery opened a shop and tasting bar in Berkhamsted last summer but, following a complaint, were told that they need to secure planning permission to operate as a drinking establishment as well as a shop.
Last Thursday, councillors who make up Dacorum Borough Council’s development control committee went against the planning officers recommendation to grant permission and refused to permit change of use from A1 (shop) to A1 and A4 (drinking establishment).
Now a petition has been launched by loyal customer Penny Cook which calls on council chiefs to support the business.
It attracted 1,509 signatures in just 12 hours and as the Gazette went to press 2,339 people had signed the online petition.
Managing director Greg Blesson said: “We are hugely grateful that she has done this off her own back.
“Over 2,000 people supported it within a matter of hours. It’s incredible support for a business like us. Our thanks go out.
“I think she is a fantastic human being to do that for us.”
The brewery, based in Potten End, also has shops in Chesham and Amersham where there have been no planning complications.
Greg said the Berkhamsted shop has been ‘extremely popular’ since it opened last year.
Under public consultation, the planning application for change of use attracted 27 letters of support and six objections, including Berkhamsted Town Council and a local landlord.
Greg told The Gazette this week: “Everything will continue as normal. We are not breaking or contravening anything.”
And in an email sent to customers this week, he said: “To be clear, all of the Red Squirrel Brewery Shops are fully licenced by the relevant local authority for ON and OFF sales of alcohol.
“The vast majority of our sales (in terms of value) are sold for consumption OFF the premises but with the extra offering of being able to consume on the premises.”
He added: “In short, this decision, in no way affects our ability to trade either now or in the future.
“We do not need to change our business model and will continue to expand gaining the appropriate licences along the way.”
Following the planning decision, the brewery is now considering its options.
To sign the petition visit www.change.org/p/planning-department-dacorum-borough-council-save-the-berkhamsted-red-squirrel-taster-bar.