Former Mademoiselle's bistro in Whitby to 'return to being a townhouse' as holiday lets plans approved despite locals objecting
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Sue Duck announced earlier this year that she was closing Mademoiselle’s, the French-themed bistro she had run since 2017, due to staffing issues.
The Grade II-listed former townhouse on Skinner Street already had two guest apartments and she has now been given permission to convert the ground floor into three one-bedroom holiday lets.
Despite several objections from residents concerned about the amount of visitor accommodation in Whitby and the loss of a retail or hospitality unit, North Yorkshire Council planning officers favoured the building’s return to its original residential use in the 18th century, and praised the removal of the commercial kitchen for improving its authentic appearance.
Whitby Town Council were among those to oppose the scheme, claiming there was not enough parking for the number of rooms and that the development would detract from the character and appearance of the area.
There were also three letters of objection from members of the public, whose comments included that the town ‘cannot lose another property to holiday lets’.
One opponent said: “What will be left of the town centre once everywhere is accommodation? It's this sort of action that is destroying Whitby and removing the entire reason people visit here in the first place. The property is situated in a prime location on one of the main streets and the space is full of so much potential beyond that of holiday lets, which would damage the character of the street and be detrimental to the surrounding businesses and neighbourhood. By all means, flats etc can be converted, but the restaurant or shop space should be preserved.
“The premises are set in a Conservation Area in a vibrant and lively shopping street in which business owners have worked hard and invested heavily to attract footfall and make the street an attractive place to visit. The loss of these premises to commercial activity, for which the main display window will presumably need to be obscured, is significant.
"This application does not draw footfall to the street, reduces employment opportunities and undermines the viability of existing retail and leisure activities which are already under pressure in a depressed market.”
They added that the conversion would make the road a ‘ghost street’ in winter and suggested the ground floor frontage could be retained as a shop unit.
Case officer Robin Forrester said: “This application merely reviews the works proposed and their impact on the specialarchitectural or historical significance of the listed building - hence the comments of the Town Council and the representations are not applicable to this application.
"The premises is a listed building although it has been significantly altered in the past to create the present commercial uses - it was a former townhouse and the current shop-front is a recent/modern intervention. The proposal will not require any significant alterations to the structure or layout of the listed building, as the fire-precautions/fire-doors that may be necessary already exists in relation to the new vacant bistro, and only re-decorating being needed to create the holiday flats.
"The removal of the kitchen flue would be an enhancement of the listed building as it is not readily related to its character. Whilst the former bistro-use was approved as a means to keep the building occupied rather than it standing vacant, its use was not entirely appropriate for the building, as its floorplan and individual rooms reflected its original use as a townhouse.
"The proposed use for holiday letting rooms retains the individual room layout and reflects the original use as a townhouse with domestic rooms. Overall, the works are minimal and the removal of the kitchen and flue would be a positive enhancement of the listed building.”