The future of caterer Arnold & Henderson hangs in the balance following a dispute with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, which has refused its planning application for continued use of its Rochelle Canteen by external visitors.
Set up by Melanie Arnold and Margot Henderson (wife of Fergus Henderson of St John fame) Arnold & Henderson is based at the Rochelle Centre in Shoreditch, where it runs a 36-seat canteen serving weekday lunches to tenants and outside visitors as well as an event catering business. It has been based in the former school building, now a cultural centre for artists and creative professionals, for the past five years.
However, the Borough of Tower Hamlets has now refused its application to continue to serve outside visitors to the Rochelle Centre or operate from the venue as a caterer for off-site events.
Reasons for the refusal were: overlooking impacts; amenity impacts - noise and disturbance; character of the Boundary Estate/Conservation Area; and unacceptable level of antisocial behaviour.
Arnold & Henderson is appealing against the council's refusal and is calling on the industry to support its appeal by downloading and signing a letter to the council on its website.
General manager Martin Cohen told Caterer the business was asking anyone who wanted to help to sign the petition before 5 March.
"As a business we are very involved in the local community, employing local people both full time at the canteen and part time through our event catering," he said. "We support the livelihoods of many of the local artists and contribute towards the centre being a cultural hub and meeting point."
Cohen added: "This is our last chance. If we lose this appeal we won't be able to operate as a business."
In 2009, Petersham Nurseries won a four-year battle with Richmond Council granting the south-west London-based restaurant and garden centre its mixed-use planning application.
By Kerstin Kühn
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