A popular coffee shop in Cardiff Bay has been barred from expanding due to a nearby Grade-II listed cottage.

Coffi Co on Harbour Drive, just down the road from the Norwegian Church, asked for planning permission to expand with more containers.

But Cardiff council this week refused permission, because of how close the container would be next to a former lock keeper’s cottage.

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However, the refusal contrasts with another recent decision nearby to allow planning permission for a five-storey museum of military medicine, very close to another listed lock keeper’s cottage.

In fact, that cottage will be removed and relocated 40 metres away.

Coffi Co wanted to expand its coffee shop on Harbour Drive, and also get permission for customers to drink alcohol on the premises. Opening times would have been changed to 8am until 12.30am seven days a week.

The cottage near the cafe, with the other cottage in the background
How the new museum would look

The cafe, which is made up of adapted shipping containers, would have expanded by installing more containers. The plans would have seen a second storey added to the cafe, with a balcony and seating area.

But the plans were scuppered due to the nearby cottage, currently used to sell fish and chips. James Clemence, the council’s head of planning, explained the reasons for refusal in a letter published with the planning documents.

He said: “The proposed development, by virtue of its scale, incongruous external appearance and proximity to the adjacent lock keeper’s cottage ... would have an adverse effect on the setting of the lock keeper’s cottage as a listed building.”

The Museum of Military Medicine was granted planning permission last December, despite a fierce campaign against the loss of public open space, and the need to remove and relocate the other Grade-II listed lock keeper’s cottage.

The other cottage, which will be relocated to make way for the museum
Where the military medicine museum will be built

A statement from Coffi Co sent to the council’s planning department explained the reasons why the coffee shop wants to expand.

The statement read: “While our store at Harbour Drive historically invited customers inside to sit beside the fire on a cold winter's day or offered shelter from the rain, Covid-19 and social distancing mean that this is no longer possible within the current space available.

“The long-term impact of the pandemic is that we quite simply need more space. This space would by default allow us to achieve the required level of social distancing and ultimately welcome customers back inside and implement safe Covid-secure operating systems.”

The two cottages were built between 1868 and 1874 for workers at the Roath Basin sea locks, according to planning documents.