A LONG-RUNNING clash between two neighbouring burger restaurants in Reading over outdoor seating has taken an unexpected turn as plans to secure the controversial pergola have been withdrawn.
In the summer, staff at the restaurant Fat Twins burger and Kaspa’s dessert parlour built a covered outdoors area without seeking planning permission from the council.
The construction of the area was opposed by neighbouring burger hut Smash N Grab, run by Mohammed Farouq Bhatti and Uzma Qadir.
The franchise holders of Fat Twins and Kaspa’s, Swiss Bubble Ltd, had applied to confirm the covered area’s presence retrospectively, in Reading planning application 221259.
The area is made up of a wooden pergola with lights and cascading fake plants.
But now the application has been withdrawn from Reading Borough Council’s planning website on November 9, a move that has been hailed by the team at Smash N Grab.
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Uzma Qadir, who raised concerns of the proximity of the pergola to their business, said: “We’re delighted that common sense has prevailed and that this application has been withdrawn.
“We’re a small independent business who loves what we do, at a time when it’s never been harder for hospitality businesses.
“All we want is to keep selling our burgers and looking after our loyal customers without having to worry about losing our livelihood because of a huge outbuilding blocking the view of our restaurant.
“We hope our neighbours will now take it down and coexist peacefully with us – we’re sure Cemetery Junction is big enough for both of us.
“We’d also like to thank all of our customers who spoke out about this and made representations to the council. It means a lot.”
The franchisees did not wish to comment directly on the withdrawal of the application.
However, they previously argued that they have always had approval for the roadside sign that stands outside The Granby, which can be seen in Reading planning application 211277.
Furthermore, the franchisees have claimed Smash N Grab have failed to engage in discussions with them to help find a common resolution.
In the summer, Smash N Grab turned down a meeting between them, the Kaspas franchisees and landlord.
Mr Bhatti objected to the seating area arguing that it creates a ‘dark corner’ which could be exploited by criminals, a suggestion that was rejected by the franchisees.
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Jay Raja, the sister of one of the franchisees Mohammed Raja and informal adviser to Swiss Bubble Ltd, argued that they have invested in CCTV, security lights and new fencing to secure the area.
Mrs Raja said: “If anything it’s made it more secure and safe.
“We have had no complaints at all and the neighbours along Granby Gardens, when we first opened came in to say how pleased they were with the improvements.”
The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) asked the franchisees whether the pergola will remain as it is and a new application be submitted, be taken down, or whether they will reconfigure the outdoor area. However, request for comment were denied.
The LDRS has also asked for a statement on the matter from Kaspa’s and Reading Borough Council.