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City Council accepts bid to transform Westgate Towers and former Kent Music School into restaurant and bar

By Aidan Barlow

The Westgate Towers and former City Gaol Cafe will be transformed into a restaurant and bar as part of ambitious plans revealed last night to the city council.

Ruling councillors looked at two bids for a lease for One Pound Lane at an executive meeting at the Guildhall.

The bid by One Pound Lane Ltd was accepted as it will also continue with the existing museum alongside a new business hub.

Council spokesman Robert Davies said: “Executive members considered a detailed report and comprehensive evaluation setting out two high quality bids.

The Westgate Towers are a landmark of the city
The Westgate Towers are a landmark of the city

“It set out the key components of both projects, the level of planned investment, planning and licensing issues, financial information and the respective timetables.

“Councillors decided to grant the lease to a company called One Pound Lane Ltd for a scheme that includes a restaurant, bar, opening of the existing museum space and business hub, along with other longer term proposals.”

The confidential council report into the winning bid stated that they believed it was “professionally put together and researched, with high quality proposals that fit with both the property and Canterbury’s local and visitor economies”.

The towers and former music school have been unused since 2012
The towers and former music school have been unused since 2012

Mr Davies added: “Naturally we are very pleased to have secured an exciting scheme. We believe it will enhance the city’s culture and business offer and bring this historic and high profile building back into use for residents and visitors to enjoy.”

The council turned down a strong bid by Cafe Mauresque owner Xavier German, who put forward his case to bring top quality food, wine, hotel, art gallery and ballet school into the historic landmarks.

He worked with the previous owner Charles Lambie, who had spent up to £1million to try and renovate the site, but died in 2012.

His aim was to use the site to reconnect the city and St Dunstans, and was backed by business figures including Canterbury City Partnership chairman Bob Jones and former KCC cultural director Des Crilley.

Cafe Mauresque owner Xavier German
Cafe Mauresque owner Xavier German

Mr German said: “I was first approached by Charles in 2011 and we were close to getting a lease sorted in January 2012, but he left us in January.

“I thought this was an interesting challenge and I need challenge in my life. The restaurant is not going to be a difficult thing to do, and with the hotel I have done my research.”

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