HAPLESS Portsmouth planners have made a complete mocha-ry of voting on the future of a seafront coffee business.
It took an intervention by The News yesterday before councillors and officers realised they had told family firm The Coffee Cup their application had been turned down – when no decision had actually been made.
The local business went to the planning committee meeting, backed by supporters and with a 290-name petition, to ask for permission to build a permanent shop on Eastney beach.
It currently trades from its distinctive Coffee Cup trailer there, and at three other sites across Portsmouth, but said it wanted to expand after positive feedback from customers.
But concerns over the design of the planned shop (pictured above) and its environmental impact split the nine councillors three ways – with some supporting the application, some wanting to refuse it and others opting for a deferred decision.
After one round of voting where none of the three options could gain a majority, councillors voted against granting permission for a second time.
But officers and members believed they had gone further and actually refused permission, allowing the disappointed applicants and their supporters to leave.
It wasn’t until The News asked to consult the meeting’s minutes that the mistake was discovered.
Assistant head of planning Clare Upton-Brown then called Steve Parsons, who owns Coffee Cup, to tell him a decision had not actually been reached and the application would be deferred instead.
‘It was all a bit of a mess,’ said Mr Parsons.
‘Now we are going to go back and meet her to discuss what we can do about the problems they found.
‘We came a long way and spent a hell of a lot of money and did everything they wanted us to do.
‘I don’t know why the design problems and environmental issues weren’t mentioned to us in the eight weeks they had our application.
‘I don’t know what else we could have done.’