A DISABILITY charity has hit out at plans to open a new pavement cafe in a town centre.

The owners of Hatch Luncheonette on Blackwellgate have submitted an application to Darlington Borough Council to extend their cafe and offer an outdoor eating space.

The area for the pavement cafe would be adjacent to the current cafe, which is situated on the corner plot on Blackwellgate and would be separated by a public walkway.

Bosses propose that there will be five tables and 20 seats as part of the outdoor eating area.

But Darlington Association on Disability, (DAD) a voluntary and charitable organisation that looks to support disabled people, have called for the application to be rejected.

It is proposed the cafe extension would be table service and the opening hours would be from 8am to 7pm from Monday to Saturday, and between 10am and 4pm on a Sunday.

Council documents state the cafe would occupy the area surrounding the four pulse lights on Blackwellgate and they would use the lights as part of a feature of the café.

But Gordon Pybus, chair of DAD, said anyone wanting to try the pulse lights would need to get in amongst the tables and chairs which would be "extremely difficult" for wheelchair users or anyone with a visual impairment.

The Northern Echo:

He said: "I don't understand why this pavement cafe application is out for consultation when it doesn't meet the requirements set out in the policy.

"There must be a minimum of two metres between a pavement cafe area and any street furniture and yet this is proposing to set up a pavement cafe in the middle of street furniture (pulse lights).

"Anyone wanting to try the pulse lights would need to get in among tables and chairs which would be extremely difficult for wheelchair users or anyone with a visual impairment.

"Street furniture is also used by many people who have visual impairments as a landmark – somewhere to get their location from.

"Even if they were classed as just lamp posts, they would still be street furniture and would still create an obstacle for many disabled people accessing the tables and chairs."

Following the objections, the owners were asked if they wished to re-locate the cafe, but chose to proceed with the application.

A decision will be made by Darlington Borough Council's general licensing committee next week.

For more information about Hatch Luncheonette, call 01325 380720.