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Wisbech Town Council applies for retrospective planning permission to convert Castle Pump House into a café as Castle gets set for Christmas

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A planning application to convert the old Pump House at Wisbech Castle into a café has been submitted by the town council three months after it first opened.

Flashback to Wisbech Castle Café opening. (4602549)
Flashback to Wisbech Castle Café opening. (4602549)

The retrospective application for a change of use has been submitted by Susanah Farmer on behalf of the council, which is responsible for running the Castle.

The café first opened on Thursday September 27 with the announcement that work to refurbish the Castle was almost complete and it was ready to take its place as an important asset for the town.

Now an application has been submitted at the end of last month which seeks to formalise the café as it has proved successful.

Councillor Steve Tierney, chairman of the Castle Working Group, explained: "The original plan was to use the kitchen for volunteers and for events in the garden. It was then suggested it would make a lovely café and so we had a meeting about that in August, and thanks to volunteers and donations of materials we managed to get it up and running quite quickly.

Wisbech Castle is offering a fun Christmas adventure for families this weekend. (5998758)
Wisbech Castle is offering a fun Christmas adventure for families this weekend. (5998758)

"We always intended to put in a retrospective application as we wanted to see how the café worked before applying for planning permission, which can take months to sort out. The café has proved popular and so now we are seeking to formalise it."

The application has been submitted with a design and access statement drawn up by Peter Humphrey Associates explaining the change does not involve any material work to the listed building.

The statement said: “The external appearance and internal nature of the Pump House has not been altered despite it taking on a new use. In order to facilitate its use as a café a free standing counter along with free standing furniture and chairs have been brought into the space but it remains one open space and its main access is through the front (north facing) garage doors. In conclusion Listed Building Consent was/is not required to facilitate its new use as a café. As previously advised by Fenland District Council a planning application for change of use is required”.

The café is manned by volunteers and is open daily selling sandwiches, cakes and hot and cold drinks. No food is cooked on the premises so no extraction or ventilation is needed.

Refurbishment work to the Pump House has included painting the building inside and out and some minor repairs, as well as slight improvement to the existing sink facilities.

The Castle entrance has been given a Christmas make-over ready for this weekend. (5998817)
The Castle entrance has been given a Christmas make-over ready for this weekend. (5998817)

Meanwhile volunteers and local actors have been preparing for Christmas At the Castle, the latest entertainment event, which will run this Saturday and Sunday and again next Saturday (22). It is open 2pm to 5pm on both Saturdays and 12pm to 4pm on Sunday.

It is based on the Grinch and is an interactive adventure that involves a trail around the Castle and its grounds with participants trying to stop the Grinch stealing Christmas and the Easter Bunny.

Admission is £1 for children and £2 for adults, which is a guidance price for those who can afford to pay, otherwise it is free. For further details visit the Castle's Facebook page.

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