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Vape posters at listed building, Ashford High Street

A historian says there has been “uproar” after a business displayed advertising posters in the windows of a listed town centre building.

The Vapelation lounge has opened in the former Merchant Chandler shop as part of businessman Julian Silver’s plan to give the grade-II listed building in North Street a new lease of life.

But Kentish Express Remember When columnist and author Steve Salter said he has been contacted by concerned residents about the posters advertising the vape lounge which have appeared in the windows above the neighbouring Evans shop.

The Vapelation posters have sparked a debate.
The Vapelation posters have sparked a debate.

The yellow posters advertise the business, but cover the windows of the former 18th century townhouse which fronts the High Street.

Mr Salter said: “I went to see the owner and told him he shouldn’t be putting posters in the windows. People have complained about it to me, they are up in arms, in uproar about it.

“I respect the fact he runs a business and needs to make an honest buck, but he needs to have regard to the fact it is a listed building, and he needs to adhere to the regulations.”

Kentish Express historian Steve Salter
Kentish Express historian Steve Salter

Mr Salter said he has complained to Ashford Borough Council, and a letter from joint development control manager Abigail Close says the matter is being investigated as a “priority three” case.

The alleged breach is for having advertisements attached to a listed building in the town centre historical conservation area without planning consent.

Business owner Mr Silver said the posters are only being displayed temporarily, while work inside the building is carried out over the next few months.

He said: “The vape lounge has just opened and it has pool tables, a pinball machine, a jukebox. We are applying for an alcohol licence, and we are refurbishing the former cafe space.

Julian Silver has opened the vape lounge.
Julian Silver has opened the vape lounge.

“Although we are in a historic building, we want to give it a fresh feel. We want to open a burger bar in the ground floor and a radio station will be moving in as well.

“It’s a massive project. While Mr Salter has criticised us, I just wish he had something to say about the good work we have done.”

Mr Silver added that work to transform the building could take a year, and said that while the council has approved the change of use to a burger bar, the restaurant won’t be open before November.

A spokesman for Ashford Borough Council said they were aware of the complaint, but can't comment on an ongoing investigation.

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