A chicken shop in Reading that’s in trouble with the council has closed its doors.

Pepe’s Piri Piri was opened at the junction of Oxford Road and Zinzan Street in October 2019, in a shop which used to serve as a Ladbrokes.

But it’s had troubled relations with Reading Borough Council due to complaints about odour from the extractor fan and potential planning breaches.

Rupert Buckingham, a resident of Zinzan Street, complained that fumes that smell of ‘burning animal fat’ coming from Pepe’s have wafted into his living room and bedroom which has created “a horrible environment to live in”.

Strained relations have led councillor Tony Page (Labour, Abbey) to call it a “mismanaged and badly operated facility”.

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Pepe’s Piri Piri was served with a planning enforcement notice in January 2020 due to it failing to obey planning conditions that involved the shop’s conversion into a takeaway and controls on the extraction fans and ventilation equipment it would use.

The store’s franchise holder, Express Team Ltd, submitted an application to confirm the change of use of the premises into a takeaway and make changes to the shopfront, which was meant to be decided at a council planning committee on Wednesday, March 30.

However, the application, reference 200142, was withdrawn at the last minute.

This led to questions over whether Pepe’s in Reading will remain in business.

Pepe’s itself did indeed close on Friday, April 8, but a spokeswoman for the company said this closure would only be temporary.

She said: “No we won’t be closing down permanently, we’ve got a bright future ahead of us.

“There are a few issues with the extraction fan. We are working really closely with the council, who’ve given us a few pointers.

“Therefore, we will be closed for two weeks, which was our choice to get everything done.”

Reading Chronicle: A notice stating that Pepe's Piri Piri in Reading is currently closed for refurbishment works. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting ServiceA notice stating that Pepe's Piri Piri in Reading is currently closed for refurbishment works. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting Service

She explained that the old application had to be withdrawn because Pepe’s have adjusted its plans.

While the current work is taking place to make changes to the front and the canopy of the building, the franchisees now have to submit a fresh application with details of a new fan system they intend to use. 

The new fan will have a dettergent spray and neutraliser which it is hoped will resolve any complaints councillors or neighbours may have.

She also voiced frustration at the council for ‘communication delays’ which has stalled work.

The spokeswoman added: “We’ve spent  thousands getting work done last year, but no one at the council got back to us about it, now they’re getting back to us.

“We have done everything they’ve asked us to do by the books.

“The council was given all our planning last year, and everything they’ve asked us to do we’ve got done straight away.”

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The spokeswoman added: “We want to do everything according to what the council is saying.

“As for the customers, we’ve never had a customer complaining about the odour.

“We’re still going to go ahead and spend money to do exactly what needs to be done to make sure this store has a bright future, because we’ve got customers coming there from all over Reading.”