Published: 06:00, 25 March 2021
Ashford Designer Outlet bosses still want to keep the site’s new restaurants open until 11pm – but now for only four days a year.
KentOnline revealed last month how McArthurGlen chiefs asked the council to relax planning regulations which currently force the units to close at 7.30pm.
They wanted Five Guys, Yo! Sushi and Comptoir Libanais to remain open until 11pm, but have now tweaked their proposal amid fears over the impact on the town centre.
In a statement submitted to Ashford Borough Council (ABC) by property consultancy firm Montagu Evans, which is working on behalf of the centre, it says it has recognised the concerns raised about the original proposal.
It said: “We have acknowledged that, while the council should permit a relaxation of the current conditions where this meets the tests of the national planning policy framework, allowing the units in the Outlet to remain open when the shops within the centre have closed gives rise to concerns that such extended opening hours will encourage people to travel to the centre to eat and drink instead of using other facilities in the town centre.
“Accordingly, the application has now been amended to enable the units to remain open until 9pm, other than on four ‘special days’ of the year when trading can continue to 11pm.”
Managers at both County Square and Elwick Place objected to the original proposal but Montagu Evans says the Outlet “performs a complementary role to the town centre”.
It says the four ‘special days’ of the year will include Black Friday and the Christmas period.
“[The proposal] would bring the food and beverage opening hours in line with the retail parts of the centre with an absolute cut-off at 9pm on the majority of days throughout the year,” it added.
“We do not consider that allowing the new food and beverage units to meet the needs of visitors to the centre for an additional 1.5 hours each day would result in a significant adverse impact on the town centre.”
Richard Lavender, president of the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, says the chamber “fully supports” the proposal, but nearby resident Rodney White, of Belmont Place, Newtown, “strongly objects” to the plan.
“The noise you hear from there during normal hours is loud enough – we can hear music and more, even when windows are closed,” he said.
“It is not appropriate as it will keep us awake, especially when my children need to sleep.
"We also get a number of lorries coming to Newtown as they obviously do not know the area.”
Montagu Evans says the Outlet's intention is to "enable visitors to the shops to be able to have a drink or some food – while the shops are open – as part of their trip, without the need to get into their cars and drive elsewhere".
Earlier this week, KentOnline revealed why Nando's can but won't open a restaurant at the Outlet.