Proposed Lake District Biker Cafe

Published: 16 May 2011

Plans to open a Biker Cafe in Keswick are being opposed.

A petition opposing the plan has been started by John and Christine Barrass who recently moved into the Pheasant Inn opposite the proposed biker cafe and it has already been reported in the local newspaper, the Keswick Reminder.

Some of the comments are laughable whilst many are quite simply alarmist;

Bikers’ Cafe Application Sparks Planning Row Unjust View Of Bikers, Says Applicant

RESIDENTS in the Crosthwaite Road area of Keswick are up in arms over plans to open the Lake District’s first biker cafe on the site of a former filling station.

A number of people who live near Crosthwaite Garage and along Vicarage Hill and Briar Rigg, have signed a petition calling on the Lake District National Park, as the planning authority, to refuse the proposal by Carlisle bikes enthusiast Keiron Graham.

Mr Graham told The Keswick Reminder that it was his intention that the cafe would be used by walkers, cyclists and families as well as bikers and said: “It’s sad that people want to alienate one section of society. This is no scare story for Keswick and it’s unfair that people have this unjust image of bikers.”

Mr Graham hires motorbikes to people who want to tour the Lake District and he said many of his clients were mature professional people and visitors from abroad.

He said: “I hire out Triumph Bonneville motorcycles to people from Japan, the United States, the Virgin islands, Australia, India and Sweden amongst the different nationalities. The last clients I had stayed at Armathwaite Hall which tells you the sort of customers I get.

“It’s somewhere for people touring the UK who can stop off and get good food, knowing their bikes can be left safe. It’s a large part of the local economy and an increasing way of holidaying in this country.

"There’s no way I want a Hell’s Angels drinking den or boy racers on noisy bikes. I would have no hesitation in banning anyone like that. It’s a cafe with a bike theme to make it different, but most of the customers will be families.”

Mr Graham said: “It’s a traditional cafe with a slant on it. It’s no biker gang hang out, more the style of a US diner/cafe. It’s difficult to recommend a cafe in the Lakes because of the lack of parking.

"There won’t be 70 bikes at a time parking up. I don’t want anything adverse for the people along there. I’m 47 and most of my clients are a similar age.”

However John and Christine Barrass, who recently took over the Pheasant inn just across the road from the proposed cafe, say they were shocked when they learnt about the planning application just weeks after moving from Sunderland where Christine gave up her work as a beautician and where John has a taxi business.

“Even if it had not been a bikers’ cafe it would still have been a dangerous place,” said Mrs Barrass. “This is not just about saving the pub although I will lose staff. This is our home. We came here in February and have invested a lot in this. We are reeling and very worried.”

Mr and Mrs Barrass are among the objectors writing to the National Park Authority. Christine Barrass said: “We have seen bikers pulling up and looking inside the windows. We’ve seen adverts saying it’s opening this summer.

"I’ve nothing against bikes, but they come in large groups and all the seats outside the Pheasant and the beer garden are going to be unusable.”

Mrs Barrass said: “I’m worried about the safety of children crossing the road at this point to get to and from Keswick School. Next year we hear signs may be asking people to come this way for parking.

"The road will be busy enough without the bikes. There are junctions above and below the site and the hospital nearby plus how will the owners of holiday cottages make any money. We don’t want bikes zooming up and down.”

A petition opposing the plan has started at the Pheasant. John and Margaret Blake, who live at Vicarage Hill, have written to the NPA lodging their objection saying the proposal does not provide for parking space, the area is busy with school traffic and the chances of a child being injured are high, the site is surrounded by residential properties and noise levels could be “intolerable.”

Objectors also raise questions of speed and litter. “By far the most serious aspect is road safety. With the advent of numerous motor cyclists it is an accident waiting to happen,” said Mr Blake.

His letter to the planners says that, if the applicant wants to open a bikers’ cafe, “he should site it close to his own home and suffer the problems as he is the one making the profit.”

We need support if we are to open this much needed biker cafe and dispel the stereotypical discrimination we face on a daily basis.

We have a Facebook page where you can show your support (The Filling Station Cafe) and will be planning ride outs shortly. Other details can be found at www.lakesescape.co.uk