COUNCILLORS have approved plans for a council-run coffee shop inside a cemetery to open for longer for one-off ticketed events.
Inspirations Coffee House, is based within Stranton Cemetery, in Tanfield Road, Hartlepool, and Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee has agreed plans to extend its hours.
Officials had applied to vary existing opening hours to allow opening on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday until 9pm and on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and bank holidays until 11pm for events.
Inspirations already has an alcohol licence but needed planning permission and also licensing approval to hold ad hoc ticketed events for evenings such as whiskey tasting and pudding clubs.
The plans were discussed by the council’s planning committee at a recent meeting.
Labour councillor Jim Ainslie asked if the plans would also need to go before the council’s licensing committee.
Planning committee chairman and Labour councillor Rob Cook said: “This application today is purely to do with planning regulations.”
Coun Cook confirmed the plans would also have to go before licensing.
Labour councillor Kevin Cranney, who represents the Foggy Furze ward, said he had listened to the concerns of residents, who had initially objected to the licensing hours but said a lot of them had been appeased after meeting with coffee shop bosses.
But Coun Cranney said residents had also raised concerns about the number of people using the cafe that park on Tanfield Road when there is a car park to the rear of the coffee house.
There had been 12 objections but no objectors were present at the meeting.
Putting Hartlepool First councillor Geoff Lilley said he shared the concerns about the proposal not being appropriate for a building inside a cemetery.
Coun Lilley also raised concerns over what happens if the council-run coffee shop were to change hands in the future.
But Coun Ainslie said, having visited the site, that he believed the configuration of the site lends itself to the plans, as the coffee shop was separate enough and secluded from the cemetery itself.
Meanwhile, Labour councillor Marjorie James called for more CCTV to be included as part of the conditions.
Coun Cook added: “I was quite impressed with the layout and the parking area out the back is quite substantial.
“It is well away from properties and there is a big wall that should stop any noise.
“The cafe is not big enough for hundreds of people anyway and I can’t see any reason why this should not be approved.”
The plans were agreed by nine votes to two.