Restaurant in Chipping Sodbury 'forced to close' after council dispute
THE owners of a Chipping Sodbury restaurant have hit out at South Gloucestershire Council for forcing them to close just before the Christmas rush. Gill and Dave Dyer, who only opened Gilly’s wine and tapas bar in August 2012, said they took the decision to close down weeks before the busiest period of the year because of a continuing battle with the authority over an extraction unit and the signs outside. The couple, who also run The Grapes pub and Humbugz sweet shop in Rounceval Street, had been told they would need to install a new and costly extraction unit as well as replace all the exterior signage because their existing signs were not in keeping with Chipping Sodbury's conservation area. They were previously refused a retrospective change of use planning application to open the restaurant in what was formerly Vickers’ Stationers. The council said: "The owners did not submit a valid planning application or listed building consent prior to opening the restaurant and an application submitted for a change of use from a shop to a restaurant was refused planning permission on November 19 as insufficient details were provided." Mrs Dyer said the decision to close was made on December 9. She told the Gazette: "It was a really sad, hard decision and I feel absolutely gutted. It has really taken it out of me. "It has been a real battle with the council and there are so many ins and outs to it. But I feel fed up with them and they are twisting things and making things more difficult than they need to be. "The council has said we could do this or that but when you are running other businesses as well, we just haven’t had the time or energy to do all those things." She added: "We had to cancel quite a lot of Christmas bookings and we have had people ringing up since we closed. But the most stress for me has been telling 10 members of staff just before Christmas that we had to let them go. That was pretty horrid." The Dyers remain in dispute with the council over the type of extraction unit that needs to be fitted in the grade II listed building and are awaiting their own independent report. Until then, Gilly’s will remain closed for the foreseeable future.