A bid by a St. Brelade beach café to set up two seasonal parking spaces has sparked public debate with 140 comments on the planning application – including claims by industry leaders that those who have opposed the venue have used intimidation as a tactic.
The Portelet Bay Café's planning application is set to come before the Planning Committee later this week.
The application proposes a 'change of use' to a "small area of public land" to provide two seasonal parking spaces from March to October for the café owners.
In the planning application, the café owners explain that they had private parking by "verbal agreement with a local landowner" since opening Portelet Bay Café nine years ago.
However, the land has recently been purchased by new owners who no longer wish for the café owners to park there.
"We were not informed of the sale or given the opportunity to acquire it and were only made aware by way of a barrier being erected," the Portelet Bay Café owners explain in their planning application.
The café owners said they they "reached out to the local area to see if anyone has a parking space they could offer" but "have not received any response".
As a result, the owners are proposing two parking spaces on an area of public land next to a bike rack.
They said: "It is critical that we are able to attend our place of work with a vehicle as we are regularly delivering stock and work extremely long hours through the season.
"The location is challenging enough without the added concern of not being able to park on arrival, and should an emergency arise we must be confident we have immediate access / departure and ability to attend / leave the site within a reasonable time."
Pictured: The planning application proposes a 'change of use' to a "small area of public land" to provide two seasonal parking spaces from March to October for the café owners.
The café owners continued: "We propose the land to remain as natural as possible, with minimal level of impact and an enhancement plan to be put in place by ourselves.
"We would require a simple post and chain with something such as a combination lock to ensure the parking area is only used as intended and not by the public."
The planning application adds that Portelet Bay Café provides the only means of refreshment to the beach, as well as ensuring that the toilet facilities are available for public use during the seasonal months the cafe is operating.
"We also ensure all public litter is collected from the beach and taken up the hill to our bin unit for collection," the owners added.
However, a planning official has recommended that the application be refused.
An assessment report said that the site is within the island's most protected coastal area, meaning that the private parking space would be inappropriate and risk harming the landscape.
The report summarised 36 letters of objection – around a quarter of the total of 140 public comments – including comments about harm to wildlife and vegetation, compromised highway safety, and a failure to consider alternative parking options.
Among 104 supportive comments, reference was made to the operators having lost access to the area where they had previously parked, the discreet and sensitive location of the parking spaces on land that was currently "scruffy and unloved".
Pictured: Jersey Hospitality Association CEOs Marcus and Ana Calvani voiced their support for the planning application.
The Jersey Hospitality Association is among those supportive of the application, criticising those who had opposed the café since it opened in 2015.
Association chief executives Ana and Marcus Calvani stated: "We are incredibly concerned at the level of intimidation being put on these local entrepreneurs by those who wish to see the business fail – we strongly believe this is inappropriate and against what our island should stand for."
Mr and Mrs Calvani said they believed hospitality businesses of this type should be championed as a result of the positive effect they had on islanders' quality of life.
The planning committee will discuss the application when they meet on Thursday 28 September at St. Paul's Centre in St. Helier.
The full planning application and public comments can be viewed online.
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