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The £40,000 cafe that can't open - and may cost woman her house
IT is a quaint cafe newly built in a pretty garden and ready and waiting to cater for hundreds of hungry workers.
But despite being fully kitted out with thousands of pounds of kitchen goods, Kym McKenzie has yet to serve up a single sandwich or cup of tea – after her business was barred from opening.
It lies unopened with new tables, chairs, chilling cabinets and cooking equipment in place and ready to go.
The 53-year-old borrowed £23,000 from a bank and spent thousands in savings building ‘Kym’s Garden Cafe’.
But Kym’s dreams of running her own company and paying for her 15-year-old son Ramoan’s future university fees lie in tatters after she was denied planning permission.
Unable to keep up with her business loan repayments and having spent more than £40,000 on her cafe, she now faces losing her home of 22 years.
Kym said: “If they said to me I can open next week, I could have this finished and ready to go.
“I went round to all the companies here and they said they would order food from me all the time.
“They say everybody has to fight to get back to work – well I have built this place and I have had no support whatsoever.”
Kymclaims she only started the project after being told by city council planners in April 2012 that she would not need planning permission for the project.
This claim has been denied by the authority, which says she was advised to seek permission for business use.
It soon became clear she needed planning consent – but having already paid builders to carry out the work, she went ahead with the construction of the single- room cafe and it was complete by Christmas.
Planning officers later recommended the proposal should be rejected amid fears customers would face “significant risk” trying to access the cafe through a proposed gate in the garden fence, which would open on to a privately- owned grass verge next to First Avenue.
Her application was rejected earlier this summer.
Kym said: “I have been given no real hope that it can open. I just don’t want to lose my home.”
MP Alan Whitehead, who supported Kym’s project, said: “This was a good idea for the area and a good idea for her.
“Having got that far down the line, if anything can be done to get over the final hurdle then it should be done.”
A council spokesman said they were happy to give out “general advice” over the telephone but that specific advice should be gained in writing.
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