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‘Little bit of Italy’ saved from closure in Chingford
A thriving Italian cafe has been saved from potential closure.
Caffe la Rocca in Old Church Road, Chingford, has been serving authentic Italian cuisine to local residents for two years, despite not having a kitchen on site.
Owner, Guy Catalano, has been battling with the council to get planning permission to officially change the use of his premises from a shop to a cafe since he opened in October 2011, which would allow him to install a kitchen.
Mr Catalano, 52, has been preparing his pasta and sauces at home but he was ready to “sell up or give up” if his latest, and third, application was refused.
One application was refused because he did not supply enough information and a second was turned down because there are already the required number of cafes and restaurants in the same row of businesses.
Mr Catalano said: “I couldn’t carry on like that. I’ve done it for two years, working so many hours
“The customers have been fantastic. They gave me the support and encouragement to carry on."
Mr Catalano said he felt like a weight had been taken off his shoulders when, despite the planning officer’s recommendation for refusal, councillors voted unanimously to grant the application at a planning committee meeting last night.
“I want to give people my love and food how my mum taught me to cook,” said Mr Catalano.
Regular customer, Zoe Zykun, 63, of Salisbury Road, Chingford, said: “I love the shop. It’s a bit of Italy.
“It was a breath of fresh air when it opened and I feel at home there really.”
Cllr John Moss, of Larkswood ward, spoke in support of the application at the meeting.
He said: “While the small print of our planning policy might have given the council cause for concern, the overwhelming weight of both national, London and local policy is about supporting our high streets and I am glad the committee has approved the application.”
Planning committee chairman, Peter Barnett, voted to grant the application but said planning officers were “absolutely right” to bring issues of policy to the committee’s attention.
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