Zero waste café bar ‘working with planners’

Owners of “the UK’s first” zero waste café/bar are aiming for April 1 as their start date – despite opposition from planners.

The Clean Kilo in Gibb Street, Digbeth
The Clean Kilo in Gibb Street, Digbeth

The team behind Digbeth’s Clean Kilo supermarket want to rebrand the business as a café/bar featuring live music from their Gibb Street venue.

The new venue would have a similar ethos to the shop – which provided products to customers without single-use packaging found in many stores.

A Birmingham City Council licensing sub-committee on Monday heard an application for a licence for alcohol, regulated entertainment and late night refreshment from The Clean Kilo Ltd.

The licence being sought lists opening hours as 10am until 2am every day, with the venue catering for up to 100 people.

The application had previously been opposed by the city council’s planning department because “the premises do not have planning consent to operate as a café/pub”.

The officer had also said there is “the potential for noise and disturbance as a result of the opening hours, the number of proposed patrons and the associated outdoor seating area”.

But the meeting heard the team behind the business are also intending to submit a planning application and are waiting until the outcome of the licensing hearing to do so.

In the licensing application, Jeanette Wong, director of the Clean Kilo Ltd, said the change was needed because of the impact of Covid on business.

She said during today’s hearing the business – which also has shops in Bournville and Moseley – would aim to open the bar on April 1.

She said: “We are an ethical business and we are actually a very well-established business.

“We wanted to remain in Digbeth because that was where the flagship store is and we are committed to Digbeth the area. We want to see the area flourish and grow.

“Instead of giving up on that concept, we applied for a Covid recovery grant to diversify the business and this is where the concept of Kilo Zero came up […].”

The bar would allow drinks including wine to be dispensed from taps by customers as well as a bar which would supply local craft beer, cider and soft drinks.

Traditional wine in a bottle could also be purchased, but empty bottles can be returned in order to be refilled by suppliers.

In reference to the representation from planning, she said: “Obviously since we have had the representation, we contacted [the planning officer] directly to ask for advice.

“We want to work with the authorities and the planning department to ensure that we are doing everything correct and [the officer] advised to wait until the hearing to see if the premises licence was going to be accepted before making a planning application.”

She said they had worked towards completing the planning application as much as possible in the mean time and had submitted a draft version to councillors on the sub-committee.

The draft application states the hours of use would be 11am until 12 midnight Monday to Friday and until 10pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Ms Wong said it was hoped the business could open as a café and for retail – including selling bottles of wine – from April 1 even if planning consent for the change of use to a bar had not been approved yet.

She said: “It’s a very innovative way of having package-free alcohol sales – that’s not been seen in the UK before as a zero waste café/bar. So there is going to be a lot of excitement for it.”

The sub-committee consisting of chair Councillor Diane Donaldson, Councillor Martin Straker Welds and Councillor Bob Beauchamp will give its decision within five working days.

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