A cafe owner has spoken of his relief following a temporary reprieve from eviction from a church building.

Will Pouget, who runs the Vaults & Garden cafe in Radcliffe Square, and cafe operators Fresh Connection, are facing a three-month eviction notice from the Parochial Church Council of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin.

They are contesting the eviction notice and a county court hearing took place in Oxford yesterday.

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Mr Pouget said the county court judge has given him and the cafe operators a temporary reprieve.

The cafe owner, who has been celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Vaults & Garden, said his team has now been given 28 days to file a defence before a second hearing in March.

He said he was very relieved by the court’s decision and that he still hoped to come to an "amicable agreement" with the church.

Oxford Mail: Diners at the Vaults & GardenMr Pouget added:  “My legal advisers have informed me that this case is likely to last more than two years as it continues and cost each party more than £250,000 in costs which is very worrying.

“The losing party could face a bill of more than £500,000 which would be disastrous for me personally.” 

The PCC has said it wants to create a new social enterprise at the Old Congregation House, where the cafe is based, and complete repairs to stonework, replant the garden and work on a major redevelopment of the cafe facilities.

It has committed £750,000 to the building works.

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In a statement issued before the court hearing, the PCC said: "The plans, which have been in development for almost two years, led to appropriate notice being given to the current licensee, Mr Pouget of Fresh Connection Limited, to vacate the premises at the end of August this year so that the PCC redevelopment plans could be undertaken.

Oxford Mail: Will Pouget at the Vaults & Garden"Recent meetings with representatives of the PCC, messages posted to the current café website and comments given to the media by the business owners indicated that Mr Pouget and Fresh Connection wished to avoid legal action requiring possession of the premises to be given up, and to negotiate a settlement.

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"The PCC and Mr Pouget as well as Fresh Connection have tried to reach an agreed outcome in recent days, but have not been able to conclude terms."

Oxford Mail: Will Pouget at the Vaults & GardenA petition from supporters of the cafe calling for the business to stay open has now attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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