Fenwick’s Café submits bid to stay in Priory Park long term

Rob and Dawn Bunker, owners of Fenwick's Cafe in Priory Park
Rob and Dawn Bunker, owners of Fenwick's Cafe in Priory Park

The popular Fenwick’s Cafe has submitted a formal application to stay in Priory Park long-term.

Currently Dawn and Rob Bunker, who have run the Chichester business since 2014, have temporary planning permission and a lease that both expire at the end of 2020 and are hoping to extend both.

Chichester District Council (CDC) officers’ preferred option for enhancements to Priory Park, costing an estimated £599,000, included removing the café buildings.

But last month cabinet members decided to put these plans on hold until the planning issues for Fenwick’s Café are resolved after a storm of objection.

Now Dawn and Rob have submitted an application to CDC for permanent planning permission for their café buildings.

If approved they would still separately have to negotiate an extension to their lease on the land with the council.

SUPPORT ALREADY POURING IN

Comments in support are already pouring in to the council backing the work of Dawn, Rob and their team.

These can be made by visiting the council’s website.

One Chichester resident said: “The café is a fantastic facility for Chichester, especially for park users and is utilised and enjoyed but hundreds of people daily.

“This is one of a few cafés offering outside space within the confines of Chichester and it would be a huge shame if the facility was closed or made to alter the brilliant service that is currently there.”

A supporter wrote: “I wholeheartedly support the application for permanent planning permission for Fenwick’s café in Priory Park – it would be a dreadful loss if this café had to close.”

Another resident added: “A very important aspect of Fenwick’s that should not be overlooked is the positive atmosphere generated at the café. This has been created through the hard work and highly positive approach towards visitors that has been adopted by Rob and Dawn Bunker and their staff.

“The welcoming attitude and rapport with customers, whether they are regulars or casual or first time visitors, cannot be underestimated. This makes customers want to return to the park and to Chichester. Chichester needs to support and help maintain such independent, caring businesses that undoubtedly add to the reasons for visiting and subsequently re-visiting the city.”

‘POSITIVE EFFECT’ ON THE PARK

According to the application: “The café has already demonstrated its positive effect on the park, by attracting a complete diversity of visitors.

“It has become a social hub for community groups by way of its prominent location, its visually attractive presentation for a largely conservative audience, its range of food and drink offerings, its support for local suppliers, and the welcome of staff and owners who open their doors to the public, seven days a week in the spring through autumn seasons.

“Feedback would suggest this vital combination seen primarily by local, not national businesses, enhances the local economy.

“Often overlooked, but particularly important is the ability to welcome those members of society who find the chain establishments are poorly equipped to manage their rather specific needs.

“Welcome is both a physical and emotional perspective, where a building and its design can play a part, but engagement with staff, usually of local family run establishments with a ‘top-down’ philosophy, are critical.

“Support for this business from a diverse cross section of Chichester’s society has been welcomed.”

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