A new cafe is to be created at a South Staffordshire farm’s former potato store.
The Chestnut Tree Cafe at Highgate Farm, Bobbington, is set to cater for walkers passing along the Staffordshire Way, Highgate Common visitors and Christmas tree customers, as well as offering dog washing facilities and a play area for children.
South Staffordshire Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the plans at a meeting on 16th March after hearing they would help the Crab Lane farm diversify.
In a supporting statement read out at Tuesday’s meeting Liz Abbiss said: “We are mainly arable farmers growing wheat, barley and making hay on our 166-acre farm. We also have a Christmas tree farming business.
“We would like to repurpose our former potato store as a café at our family farm. It will be called the Chestnut Tree Cafe in honour of the lovely old chestnut tree next to the proposed site.
“There will be approximately 13 tables inside the cafe, an outdoor eating area with a few additional tables, dog washing area, children’s play area and a parking area.
“It will be the perfect spot for people walking in the local area, families with young children and dog owners to stop for refreshments and relax for a while. They will be able to buy homemade fresh food cooked on site using local ingredients where possible, as well as hot and cold drinks.
“The potato store is an interesting old and unusual building from parts of aircraft buildings from Halfpenny Green. It is starting to deteriorate and a new use will save it from decline.
“To convert the building into the cafe we will be using reclaimed building materials as much as possible as we want to keep the look of the agricultural building in the café and reduce the environmental impact as much as possible.
“As a family business we need the cafe because at the moment 70% of our farming business turnover relies on our arable activity.
“That exposes us to quite a lot of risk which we would like to reduce. As we have left the European Union farming support is being reduced significantly; the loss of the money has a big impact on our business over the next few years if we don’t do something else now.
“The cafe will promote a new more stable income for us. It will provide some financial security for our family business and it will enable family members like me to come back and work on the farm. The café will be part of the local economy and bring local benefits.”
Committee members welcomed the proposals.
Cllr Lin Hingley said: “This application looks very good and very exciting. I think farmers have to diversify these days to help them and I think it’s brilliant – I would certainly support them.”