Smoke Shack took over The Foresters Arms in Stony Stratford, September 2014. We were granted permission by Milton Keynes Council to change it from a pub to a restaurant by way of license.
The Council's planning department, the same that granted us the license, is now trying to force us to remove all of the kitchen because we had to make a hole in the floor and wall for extraction ducts in and out, as instructed by the Environmental Health (EHO) department, also at Milton Keynes Council. Interestingly, none of these elements are actually listed on the National Heritage Database and those that are listed have not undergone works. These holes can also be easily reinstated were the equipment ever to be taken out.
We have also complied with the Fire Authority, again on behalf of Milton Keynes Council, in transforming what was a run-down, danger to the public, into a flourishing and expanding local employer that has been featured on ITV and is currently in the running for 8 food industry awards. Our investment in this building, to fix 10-30 years of shoddy work, is close to £100,000.
We use local suppliers and work with local companies. We get on with the local pubs and eateries around us, many of whom have felt the 1,000+ customers who travel into the town each week have benefited their businesses and restored the corner to its former glory.
We are therefore in a lose/lose situation and Milton Keynes Council's planning department is currently prosecuting the business, and the owners personally, without taking into account all the good we have done. It feels as though the agenda is personal when we have tried our best to do something good.
All we ask is for the opportunity to keep our restaurant open; the ambition of the planning department seems to be nothing other than having us return it to the boarded up state it was for over 2 years, when nobody cared and it was left to fall into a worsening state of disrepair. It just makes no sense for anyone, not even the building.
We want simply for the council to stop fighting us and talk to us. To see what little their negative action really achieves and the bigger positive picture of working with us to keep it open. Instead they want to not only destroy our business, but also us personally through three separate legal actions paid for by you, the taxpayer.
Please support us in asking Milton Keynes Council to take into account what really is in the public's best interests - a successful restaurant employing 20 people, or a boarded up eyesore with 20 staff out of work.
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