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Aspendos in Hythe appeals decision to remove £20,000 cladding

By Sean Axtell

A restaurateur who unlawfully covered their building in £20,000 worth of cladding hope a council will reverse a decision to strip it.

Muj Gunes, 34, owner of Hythe Aspendos in Prospect Road, will appeal Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC)’s ruling to remove the "obviously fake" stonework.

In October, the authority refused a retrospective planning application to keep the works, inspired by Turkey’s ancient Greco-Roman city Aspendos.

Aspendos - Prospect Road, Hythe (4956997)
Aspendos - Prospect Road, Hythe (4956997)

Speaking this week Mr Gunes said: “I’m really hopeful they will let us keep it following the appeal.

“We have had nothing but good feedback from customers, people in the surrounding area, and even people who work for the council.

“I accept we have made a mistake and we want to find the best way out of the situation, we’re hoping to get this solved.”

Mr Gunes added £140,000 has been spent on the premises – a dilapidated old veterinary building – since it was bought ten years ago.

Last year artist flew from Turkey to build the cladding, complete with faux pillars either side of the building, Mr Gunes explained.

“I accept we have made a mistake and we want to find the best way out of the situation..." Mr Gunes

A planning process delay meant the work needed to be complete before the artist, named Dunayadin, caught a flight home, Mr Gunes added.

Earlier this month, the council's chief planning officer Llywellyn Lloyd wrote to Mr Gunes outlining his right to appeal and reiterated the grounds for planning refusal.

She describes the Flintstone-esque exterior as “an incongruous and visually harmful element in the street scene,” in the letter.

Ms Lloyd added: “The external alterations and new parapet wall, by virtue of introducing materials which are out of keeping with those used in the surrounding area and which are obviously fake.

“By virtue of the design, which is alien to the surrounding built development and draws no reference from it, detrimentally alter the character and appearance of the host building and appear as an incongruous and visually harmful element in the street scene.”

“It just feels like a huge snag and it takes a lot of time to do all of this..." Mr Gunes

A poll taken by almost 800 readers on KentOnline revealed 72% thought the cladding should stay.

A total of 20% believed the fake front should be removed and 8% were unsure.

Mr Gunes must appeal to James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government within six months from January 24 this year.

Mr Gunes, whose family also owns a restaurant in Folkestone and takeaway in Cheriton, added: “It just feels like a huge snag and it takes a lot of time to do all of this.

“Sometimes you just feel like giving up.”

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