To Sit Or Not To Sit
September 1, 2015 § 11 Comments
The bakery is very nearly two years old. How time has flown by. It is sometimes overwhelming the support that we have received from the local community, so much so that we have grown well beyond my expectations or wildest dreams.
Our original customers will agree the bakery has evolved from, its humble beginings. We have continued to fill the space with more equipment, more storage and more staff to cater to the ever increasing demand for our product. From the very beginning it has been the customers that have determined the trajectory of my little bakery, and we have been at your mercy and we are here to service your needs as part of the community of Maryville and Newcastle.
The greatest request from customers since the day we opened the doors has been for more seating. People have left chairs outside, donated, for the bakery to use for our customers. We have had customers request more seating, we have even on occasion had people scream at me ‘But why not?!’ The simple answer is that we are not allowed.
Unfortunately it is not a simple process of purchasing more seating and putting them out for customers to sit.
As part of the original consent for the bakery’s Development Application with Newcastle City Council a limit was placed on the chairs I can provide for customers.
The Council has been recently required to respond to regular complaints from one of our neighbours about our operations and has asked us to review our seating arrangements. We currently are unaware of who is making the complaints, or even what the specifics of the complaints are, but in due course we would like to find out so as we can address these concerns concisely. We only wish that this person would have come to us first so as we could include their specific concerns in our future planning.
It is really unfortunate that this neighbour did not come and talk to us first before requesting the Council to intervene.
We have recently put together a new DA in to try and increase this number and to change the usage of an extra part of the bakery that we would like to use as a cheese room and event space. Unfortunately we were asked by council to withdraw the application, as it would be rejected on the grounds that they had received these regular complaints from one of our neighbours.
This is where things get a little complicated and it becomes a zoning issue, the bakery is in an area of Maryville zoned industrial, when you drive down Downie St. and you realise that there are many residence in the area that is zoned industrial. But as you look around Downie and the neighbouring streets, you can’t help but ask yourself ‘are we zoned correctly?’ Are we industrial, residential, or should we be mixed use? Maybe that is something for the politicians to consider.
The objectives of the current zoning as stated by council documentation are:
- To provide a wide range of light industrial, warehouse and related land uses.
- To encourage employment opportunities and to support the viability of centres.
- To minimise any adverse effect of industry on other land uses.
- To enable other land uses that provides facilities or services to meet the day-to-day needs of workers in the area.
- To support and protect industrial land for industrial uses.
Outside of this, I believe we are helping to create a more community focused city, where people are shopping at a local business, they are employed by a local and we are building something local.
The reality of removing chairs and not fully realising this area of the business is service staff will loose hours. I have tried to strike a careful balance between manufacturing and retail; this has benefit as a more enjoyable place to work where we can engage directly with the public as the product is being made. I know we have many customers who a frustrated that we don’t open earlier. I have however always kept in mind our residential neighbours by not applying to operate earlier. You will notice taking into account our residential neighbours is not an objective of the zone, but something that I take very seriously with every decision I make about the bakery. I have demand for a product and service that we provide I am offering employment to quite a few people, and have an opportunity to employ more people if we can work through our current issues. We have exciting plans for the future. However if this continues I will have to let staff go from the retail section of our business. Perhaps even close retail sales all together.
We are working with council at the moment and will be re-submitting a development application to try maintain a viable business, that is both a pleasure to visit for customers, but also to continue to offer employment opportunities to the community. As part of this we would like to teach cooking classes, hold occasional dinners, and open up a cheese shop in the remaining part of the building, something that we only hope contributes more to our local community. If there are any concerns from our neighbours or anybody else in the local community, we would like to hear from you so as we can integrate these with our plans for the future.
We are here not only to serve, but be part of building a local community and a vibrant Newcastle City.