PLANS to build outdoor seating pods at a popular café in Newport have been given the go-ahead.

Earlier this year, plans were submitted to introduce six outdoor, all-weather pods to the grounds outside The Café at Ridgeway, along with external access to the toilets inside.

The café, located off Allt-Yr-Yn Avenue in the Ridgeway area of the city, has been a popular addition to the city’s dining scene since opening, and it is hoped that these pods would allow for customers to visit even during periods of poor weather.

According to the planning application, the plans come as a result of “changing consumer behaviours and expectations that have arisen in the last 18 months, not only as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, but also as a result of adapted social patterns.”

But, with the café located at the top of a hill, customers looking to use the existing outdoor seating are exposed to the elements, not least, wind.

The pods are thought to be a better, and safer alternative to a gazebo style covering – due to the café’s location, and, design specifications show that the pods can be used in a number of ways, depending on weather and season.

Made out of timber, they also come with PVC covers which can be customised to allow for ventilation, fully used in wet weather, or completely removed on a sunny day.

But, the plans, submitted to Newport city council by café owner John Lavender, received a substantial amount of opposition.

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What was said about the plans?

The plans called for alterations to be made to the access to the toilets inside the café, which itself was a former public toilet block, given a new lease of life in 2015.

This, along with the new pods outside the café, was met with objection from four members of the public, two ward councillors, and the head of city services for highways.

There were concerns raised by the public that the changes would be of detriment to the area, both in terms of visual impact and potential for additional traffic to the area.

South Wales Argus: An image showing a similar type of pod to those proposed, submitted along with the planning applicationAn image showing a similar type of pod to those proposed, submitted along with the planning application

Both Cllr Fouweather and Cllr Evans raised objections that the pods are not within the character of the area.

Finally, the head of city services for highways suggested that this proposal would require nine parking spaces in order to make these plans viable.

However, in considering the planning application, it was determined that the pods would not be visually harmful to the area due to their “relatively small footprint”.

Continuing, the planning officer stated that their colleague in the highways department was incorrect in terms of the number of parking spaces required – on the basis that it is a café, and not a restaurant. They said: “It is noted that the Highways Officer has incorrectly set out that 1 space per 7m2 is required, this is for a restaurant use. The applicant has confirmed that they operate as a café, with a menu of sandwiches, wraps and snacks. Their website also corroborates this and they promote themselves primarily as a coffee shop.”

As a result, planning permission has been granted for the installation of the pods, and new access to the café’s toilet facilities.