Clifton? Thanks, but no thanks ... we're off somewhere more friendly
A RESTAURANT owner planning to move his business out of Clifton Village has launched a scathing attack on the area's conservation and traders' organisations.
Toby Bywater, pictured, who runs Zazu's Kitchen, has accused Clifton Traders' Association Clifton and the Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society of failing to support his restaurant.
The 38-year-old will relocate his eatery from The Mall to Gloucester Road, Bishopston, later this month after trading in Clifton Village for just six months.
He fired a parting shot at the two associations in a farewell message to his customers written on a chalkboard outside his premises.
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In the sarcastic message, he said: "Special thanks to CHIS for their undying condemnation. Feel free to fossilise Clifton Village in your own image...and to the Clifton Traders' Association for their non-support, congrats on another empty site."
The former Raymond Blanc front-of-house employee said the groups were against his business from the outset because he did not have planning permission in place to open a restaurant.
However, Mr Bywater believes he was legally allowed to trade as a bring-your-own restaurant in the former coffee shop because he had lodged a planning application for a change of use with Bristol City Council.
He said although the application was refused, he was entitled to continue trading as a restaurant because he had lodged an appeal.
Mr Bywater said that although he felt let down by the organisations, he said other traders and customers were highly supportive of the restaurant.
"Before we had moved in, the Clifton and Hotwells Improvement Society had circulated a letter saying we had operated unlawfully," said the restaurateur.
"They gave the letter to the traders' association and other traders, and seemed to be trying to drum us out.
"The council said we weren't trading illegally. They seemed to be trying to turn people against us. It was quite pathetic to be honest."
Mr Bywater said his new restaurant in Bishopston would open on May 17.
He said: "It's a real shame we are moving and I don't want to move but we have an amazing new site, which is larger. Our site here is a bit too small and we are a bit too popular for it. If I find another site in Clifton I won't hesitate to take it."
Mr Bywater believes he was refused permission for a change of use to a restaurant because there were already enough licensed premises operating in the area, which has been designated a cumulative impact zone.
Rosemary Musgrave, the improvement society's secretary, said the group was acting in the area's best interests.
She said: "The business was acting unlawfully. It's a cumulative impact area and A3 licences (for restaurants) are not usually granted without special reasons. There are residential properties directly behind the restaurant and they have been quite affected by the noise and the kitchen."
Tony Miles, chairman of the traders' association, said Mr Bywater had never approached him for support.
He said: "Clifton welcomes anyone who opens a business with the right planning permission. It has to be a fair playing field for everyone.
"You can't open up and then apply for permission because it doesn't give anyone the chance to object. He's never come to the traders' association for support and we haven't written a letter of objection. How can I support someone who doesn't have any planning permission?"