Published: 17:09, 11 February 2019
| Updated: 17:19, 11 February 2019
A historic former home could reopen as a bar and restaurant after eye-catching new plans emerged.
London-based developer U+I wants to overhaul the Grade II-listed Whist House on the Kent Wool Growers (KWG) site in Tannery Lane.
Bosses had previously submitted plans to convert it into a four-bedroom house, but they have now revealed a scheme which will restore the 1707-built house and provide a modern extension.
The development, which is part of a wider plan to build 254 flats on the former KWG site, would provide space for 106 diners.
The modern extension, providing room for 66 of the covers, would be connected to Whist House by a short, glazed lobby.
Private dining for 40 covers at ground and mezzanine levels would be offered within Whist House.
Ashford Independent Cllr Winston Michael raised concerns over the KWG development last month, but thinks the restaurant plan could work.
He said: “Most restaurants around Ashford are chains and noisy and unsuitable for conducting business meetings unless you drive out of the town centre.
“The old charm of Whist House gives it character. Turned into a four-bedroom house would mean it would be be out of place surrounded by flats and who would wish to live there without any real privacy?
"It would be lost in a sea of high-rise buildings. The building as it stands could be retained and architecturally improved but still keep an old worldly charm to give the right feel to a high-class restaurant.”
The restaurant development is expected to create about 25 new jobs.
U+I chiefs say they have worked with government department Historic England on the development of the scheme.
In a previous proposal, U+I had hoped to open boutique B&B-style rooms in Whist House, but the plan was dropped as changes to the listed building were described as excessive.
In the new planning application, the developers say: “The final proposal seeks to restore the building to its former glory, and provide a contemporary extension in order to enable its use as a commercial restaurant.
“It has been thoroughly considered and progressed alongside Historic England to ensure the scheme brought forward requires the minimal intervention possible to the original building, and ensures that the proposed extension is subsidiary to and does not cause harm to the setting of the Grade II-listed house.”
Ten car parking spaces are planned with the development, which is set to see a listed southern garden wall at the property demolished.
Whist House was last used as a residential property in 1995. Since then, the building has fallen into a state of disrepair.
It was built by Richard Greenhill in 1707, who was a successful businessman, working as a clockmaker before becoming a tanner.
Last month, bold plans for four apartment blocks providing 254 flats on the KWG site, ranging from six to 14 storeys, were deferred.
The plan was recommended for approval ahead of the planning committee meeting, but members deferred the application, likening the scheme’s appearance to high-rise buildings in London.
The scheme also features a proposed loop-the-loop bridge over the River Stour, which will be designed by artist Alex Chinneck, who previously turned the Brundett House building into a zip.
U+I has lodged its restaurant plan with the council in two separate applications.
Visit www.ashford.gov.uk and search for 19/00067/AS and 19/00066/AS to view the scheme.