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Farm's livelihood could be saved by last-gasp lifeline
A FARM whose cafe and deli have been shut because of a lack of planning permission could be handed a lifeline.
Rectory Farm, in Stanton St John, was forced to close the cafe and deli on Thursday.
But South Oxfordshire District Council has now said the pick-your-own farm could keep its cafe open as long as it was within the farm shop building.
The Country Cafe was in a mobile unit opposite the farm shop in an area of the site called The Glade.
It offered things such as light lunches and refreshments.
Seven temporary staff who were working in the cafe and deli have left since the closure.
Council spokesman Andy Roberts said: “We remain open to the idea of the owner retaining the seasonal cafe within the existing farm shop building if the owners are happy to discuss the possibility with us.
“We also remain open to discussions to see if we can offer positive help with their future plans.
“We are very supportive of the Rectory Farm pick-your-own business, which plays an important role in the local economy.
“However, we had to take planning enforcement action in respect of two unauthorised parts of the business for a number of reasons.
“These reasons include the impact on the local village shop and protecting the green belt from inappropriate development.”
In the enforcement notice, which was issued by the council on September 7, 2012, Rectory Farm was given permission for the pick-your-own and farm shop, but the café, deli, picnic tables and children’s play equipment were seen to be in excess of what was allowed by the council.
Planning inspector Nicholas Freeman said in his 30-page decision on the appeal that the café and deli caused substantial harm to the surroundings.
The cafe has been run by Graham and Penny Corbett since 2005.
Mr Corbett, 52, said: “It’s been a great success in that time.
“Our livelihood is dependent on the cafe being open during the summer as we don’t have enough business to sustain us for the rest of the year.”
Farmer Richard Stanley, 57, who has been at the farm since 1979, said he was encouraged by the news from South Oxfordshire District Council that the cafe could continue to operate and said they had even agreed to meet with him.
He said: “This is the first time they have agreed to meet me, although no date has been set yet.
“Hopefully, if they come, we can have a discussion about the farm which we have never had properly before.”
Horticultural manager Paul Clark, 49, said his job at the farm relied on the cafe and deli remaining open.
He said: “I could lose my job, which would mean I could also lose my house.”
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