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Villagers ‘frustrated’ over loss of Teynham Cutz barbers

Villagers are pleading for the return of their local barber shop after the business claims it was “unfairly treated” when it was told it could not go back to its previous premises by a new landlord.

Those living in Teynham, between Faversham and Sittingbourne, are questioning how a quaint corner shop, that’s been home to several businesses for more than 15 years, was allowed to be turned into a flat.

Teynham Cutz had to move out of the property last year
Teynham Cutz had to move out of the property last year

The property, at 65-67 London Road opposite Crispin’s Fish Bar, was known in the area as Teynham Cutz until April last year.

The Accommodation Team South East Ltd bought the property and a spokesman has said the barbers was ‘not fit for purpose’ so they have extended the current residential property and submitted a retrospective change of use for the part of the building.

A spokesman for Teynham Cutz, which had been serving the village for almost seven years, said: “We had a contract with a previous landlord for five years and afterwards we had a rolling contract without any issues.

“Then our old landlord sold the building to our new one. We were recommended to the new landlord and they said our business staying there wasn’t a problem however they wanted four weeks to renovate the building and improve the facilities.”

Following this conversation Teynham Cutz moved out of the property in April 2023 expecting to move back just a month later.

The new flats in Teynham. Picture: Megan Carr
The new flats in Teynham. Picture: Megan Carr

The spokesman added: “One of our customers let us use their garage free of charge to keep our equipment in but almost a year later it is still sitting there.

“Weeks turned to months and I noticed the front of the building starting to change. It didn’t look like a shop anymore.

“The landlord kept denying what was happening even when I questioned why it didn’t look like a shop anymore.

“The last contact I had with them was in September last year. He sent me the deposit we paid for the shop and the one week's worth of rent I paid.

“The new landlord got rid of us to build flats. We’ve been treated unfairly but we don’t own the building and we can’t do anything without a contract.

When work was underway on the new flats in Teynham in 2023. Picture: Google Maps
When work was underway on the new flats in Teynham in 2023. Picture: Google Maps

“The landlord just kept us hanging. If he had just said to us that they wanted us to move so they could build flats we would have understood and would have begun our search for a new shop.”

Despite work on the building starting last summer it was only this month that retrospective planning permission was submitted to Swale council.

It is for the change of use of the former barber shop and to increase the size of an existing flat to create a bedroom.

Retrospective planning permission is the granting of approval after works have started or been completed.

If an applicant is denied permission they may be told to reverse the changes that have been made.

Teynham Cutz in 2019. Picture: Google Maps
Teynham Cutz in 2019. Picture: Google Maps

The applicant, Jamie Tatler from The Accommodation Team South East Ltd, explained that when he purchased the property it was made up of five units; two ground-floor flats, two first-floor flats, and the barber shop.

He said: “We removed the barber shop because it had no amenity space fit for purpose, the toilet and kitchen were located within the basement directly below one of the flats with restricted head height, no mains drainage, and zero noise or fire protection to the residential property above which would not have passed building regulations.

“The commercial property did not have its own utility supplies and the electrics and plumbing were in a dire state and would not have passed an electrical inspection.

“The barbers were not removed and replaced with a studio flat, it simply increased the size of the flat already there and the planning application submitted is for a change of use to remove the commercial element within the building and changes to the frontage of the building.”

Before it was Teynham Cutz the property was a florist in 2009. Picture: Google Maps
Before it was Teynham Cutz the property was a florist in 2009. Picture: Google Maps

The barber shop spokesman added: “Just like the village, we are really upset about what has happened.

“To lose it like we did was unfair. The whole village is upset but they have been supportive and we appreciate that they keep checking on us and for that we would like to say thank you.”

The barbers is currently located at the business’s sister branch, TMC Barbers, in Canterbury Road, Sittingbourne, by the Tesco Express, while it looks for new premises in Teynham.

Mr Tatler has also responded to posts on social media calling him a “greedy developer”.

Teynham Cutz in 2022. Picture: Google Maps
Teynham Cutz in 2022. Picture: Google Maps

He continued: “I have had to reduce the number of units within the property due to the fact it was not safe or fit for purpose and whilst there will be plenty of people that will argue it has been there for years and there’s not been a problem I would rather be defending this decision than one where a fire had broke out and people’s lives were in danger or worse.

“I would have loved for the barbers to have remained and put a great deal of time and effort into designing the layout to accommodate it but it simply didn’t work.”

Mum-of-three Hayley Smith has lived in the village for nine years and says her son, who has been diagnosed with autism, would never have been able to get his hair cut if it wasn’t for the team at Teynham Cutz.

The 38-year-old said: “They were amazing. Alfie, my seven-year-old son, has autism and doesn’t do well with haircuts, even at home, to the point where he is screaming, sweating and nothing pacifies him.

“It started like that at Teynham Cutz but the barber told him to count to 100 and when he was finished they’d be all done with his hair.

“The first few times he screamed and screamed, but they knew his name and they knew how to help him. They’d give him lollipops and were just really good to him. They are really missed.”

The carer explained that you would always have to queue out the door if you wanted a hair cut because the shop was so busy.

She continued: “Because they’re not in the village anymore we have to go elsewhere.

“But if it wasn’t for Teynham Cutz I wouldn’t have been able to take Alfie anywhere. I’ll put my custom back into them as soon as they move back.”

Speaking on the new flats that have been built in place of the former barber shop, Mrs Smith added: “I personally don’t like how it looks. It was an old building, and in the basement, where the toilet was, you could see it was old.

“I do get that parts needed to be redone but everyone in the village had a lot of respect for the barbers and it's frustrating to see what happened to the business.”

Conservative councillor for Teynham and Lynsted, Lloyd Bowen, says when he started noticing changes to the building in July last year he raised concerns with Swale council.

He said: “I’m not overly happy with the retrospective planning application and the way it has been done is poor practice.

“Now the retrospective planning application is in motion a planning officer could turn around and say no which would mean the landlord would have to restore the building but I can’t see that happening, as frustrating as it is.

“From a planning permission perspective, there is nothing wrong with what has been built apart from the fact that the applicant didn’t ask for planning permission in the first place.

Cllr Lloyd Bowen. Picture: Swale council
Cllr Lloyd Bowen. Picture: Swale council

“All I can say to residents with concerns is to urge them to respond to the planning application.”

To comment on the retrospective planning application enter 24/500512/FULL into the Swale planning portal.

A Swale council spokesman said: “The application at 65-67 London Road (ref no. 24/500512) was validated on 9 February and is currently under consideration.”

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