Bearded Cactus cut down by council

THE Bearded Cactus has become a landmark on the highway in East Maitland but it will soon be gone.

Maitland council is forcing the mobile coffee van to find another home.

All but one Maitland councillor has agreed the council should begin compliance and regulatory processes against the mobile van’s home on Newcastle Road.

They said they were not attacking the business and its success, but rather the flaws in the state environmental planning policy that allowed it to operate without approval.

The lack of definition of a mobile food and drink business within the policy was the main issue.

The council will discuss it with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

Owner Leah Jaunalksnis started selling coffee out of the van in her driveway in January after securing a permit from the council.

That permit was renewed in July and expires at the end of June.

Councillor Ben Whiting went into battle for the business and compared its presence in a residential zone with Mr Whippy driving around the streets selling ice-cream.

He questioned whether the van was making a significant environmental impact, saying the New England Highway would still be busy without it.

‘‘It can be argued The Bearded Cactus meets all of the standards.’’

General manager David Evans said the council could not approve a ‘‘coffee shop in a residential zone’’.

Councillor Loretta Baker noted there had been accidents and ‘‘lots of near misses’’ on the road while councillor Philip Penfold emphasised the council was ‘‘very supportive of their terrific entrepreneurial spirit’’.

The cafe’s Facebook page, which has distanced itself from comments posted on a Save the Bearded Cactus page controlled by others,updated its customers early on Wednesday morning.

“It wasn’t in our favour so we will need to start looking for a new commercially zoned property,” the cafe’s page posted.

– with Matt Carr