Local Hero loses appeal over park cafe too close to school

Monday June 19th 2023

Old School Takeway snack van

An image of how the new shipping container cafe in Mayfield Park, Dalkeith, could have looked.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A bid to create a food takeaway in a shipping container in a Midlothian park has been rejected despite claims it could bring some ‘panache’ to the area.

Willian Kivlin, who was named as a Local Hero by business leaders this year, wanted to open his first snack van in Mayfield Park.

But despite receiving more than 100 letters of support, the plans were rejected by planners who said the new eatery would be too near to local schools and breached its school and town centre policies.

And his appeal to Midlothian Council’s Local Review Body was also rejected today by four votes to two, despite one councillor describing the cafe as bringing ‘a bit of panache’ to the area.

Concern that the cafe would take custom away from town centre businesses in Mayfield as well as attracting schoolchildren were raised by review body members.

Councillor Derek Milligan said he believed the planners had got the decision ‘100 per cent right’.

He told the meeting: “We have had years of discussions with the community council and local groups in this area to try and plan and protect the town centre.

“There are several shops and cafes in the town centre that this would be in competition with.”

And fellow councillor Dianne Alexander added: “It is close to Newbattle High school and we are trying to get our young people to eat in schools.”

Review body convenor Russell Imrie told members that Mayfield town centre currently has two vacant units and Mr Kivlin’s new business could look for a location option there.

However Councillor Colin Cassidy backed the plans.

He said: “I think it would bring a bit of panache to that park. I don’t want to put Mayfield down but the town centre is not really an appealing place and does not get a lot of footfall, mainly due to a lack of Midlothian Council funding over the years.”

Mr Kivlin, who runs The Old School takeaway from his home in Dalkeith, received his Local Hero award from Midlothian and East Lothian Chamber of Commerce at their business awards earlier this year.

In the space of three years he went from living in a homeless shelter to setting up his takeaway business along with his partner operating from their home.

He persuaded a local business to help fund around 200 Christmas dinners which he cooked and delivered alongside a team of volunteers as well as donating gifts for children.

Appealing against the decision to refuse the change of use, he said: “This will be great for the town and an amazing opportunity to see the opportunities of having different businesses in Midlothian.”

He said the shipping container model for the new cafe was based on designs around the world and was a more sustainable way of running the business.

He added: “Before we started pursuing the project we asked loads of customers their thoughts on the idea and with their responses we can’t wait for an opportunity to bring something amazing to the park and everyone in the community.

“We are hoping to start a low funded hot meals on wheels programme for low income families in their area as well.”

You can watch the Local Review Body discussing the appeal below.


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