Tea in the Paddock, located between Stobhill and Guide Post, is a thriving business which also hosts regular community events, including sessions for families whose children have autism or special educational needs.
But owner Una Young, 60, is afraid of the impact on her venture if planning councillors say she needs to tear down a garden pergola.
The cafe set up outdoor seating and covered it with a pergola when pandemic restrictions meant people could not mix indoors. Ms Young, who lives on site, says she was assured by the council at the time that it was acceptable to install the structure, and planning permission could be resolved at a later date.
The pergola outside Tea in the Paddock.
She submitted a planning application in September 2021 but, 14 months on, she is still waiting for a decision. The plans were originally set to be decided by council officers under ‘delegated powers’. But after a year of uncertainty, they are now due to come before the planning committee and an an officer dealing with the application is recommending it be refused, despite it receiving nearly 200 comments of support.
He has also declined an offer to meet with Ms Young, or visit the premises.
Ms Young said: “If I was building a 20-storey high rise I could understand the objections, but this is not out of place.
“I have not jutted any further out than the actual original shop that’s been there for 200 years or so, and no one can see the neighbours from where it is. I really do not know our problem.”
Tea in the Paddock’s premises, which adjoin a horse riding centre.
“No one has any idea how it has been because they just will not talk to me. It’s awful. They are bullying. They are being bullies.”
It is not known why it has taken so long for a decision to be reached or why the application now needs to be decided by a planning committee, but the local authority declined to explain when pressed by the Morpeth Herald.
Plans lodged to create events venue at Northumberland country houseTea in the Paddock’s pergola, decorated last Christmas.
A spokesman for Northumberland County Council said: “This is a live planning application so it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”
But email communication between the cafe and a council planning officer claims the terrace is “unacceptable development in the Green Belt” and therefore the planning committee will be urged to knock it back.
Ms Young said the long-running saga had caused her “much stress and so much anxiety.”
She added: “I have cried, I’ve never slept, and I’m actually losing my hair with stress.”
The financial cost is mounting too, as she has missed out on 13 wedding bookings and staff have left because they fear the business will be forced to downsize.
The council’s Local Area Planning Committee will consider the application on November 14.