Stay of execution for St Albans deli after housing scheme rejected

Buongiorno Italia owner Tony Picciuto inside his delicatessen which his landlord wants to convert in

Buongiorno Italia owner Tony Picciuto inside his delicatessen which his landlord wants to convert into a residential property - Credit: Archant

The owner of a popular Italian delicatessen in St Albans has cautiously welcomed the rejection of a scheme to turn part of his business into a four-bedroom home.

Alan Oakley, the new landlord of one-half of Buongiorno Italia on Lattimore Road, asked St Albans district council for a change of use from shops to residential.

And in a surprise decision, councillors at Tuesday’s plans central committee meeting turned down the bid, despite planning officers recommending the conversion go ahead.

The rejection comes after a strong campaign by independent delicatessen owner Tony Picciuto who fought his corner - with the backing of loyal customers - to halt the plan.

He told councillors the proposed conversion of the retail area at 68 Lattimore Road would not “make a positive contribution to the local character of the area”.

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Tony is the freeholder of No 66 Lattimore Road and tenant of the ground floor of the application premises.

He added: “My shop is second generation … considered to be one of the best delis in the south east of England, providing jobs and a place to meet for local people.”

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Reading a written statement on behalf of Alan Oakley, who could not attend the meeting, Cllr Martin Leach said: “There are a good number of local shops nearby in Victoria Street and London Road, meeting local needs.”

The scheme was rejected because it failed to guard against the unnecessary loss of valued services.

Afterwards, Tony said: “I’m being pragmatic as it could go to appeal, so there is no point celebrating.”

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