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Canterbury Slug & Lettuce bar plan sparks fears of rowdy revellers, rats and rubbish

A bid to transform a run-down former Currys store into a late-night bar has sparked fears of drunken revellers vomiting and urinating in the street.

Residents also worry plans to convert the vacant city centre site in Longmarket, Canterbury, into the city's first Slug & Lettuce will attract rats to the area and hit property prices.

Developers unveiled plans for a branch of Slug & Lettuce to move into a former Currys in the centre of Canterbury last month
Developers unveiled plans for a branch of Slug & Lettuce to move into a former Currys in the centre of Canterbury last month

LaFarge UK Pension Trustees is hoping to divide the 1,300 sq m eyesore into two units comprising a pub - which will be run by the chain - and a restaurant.

However, the scheme is being opposed by occupants of the City Garden flats above, who fear the proposed 2am closing time on Fridays and Saturdays could result in them being disturbed late into the night.

Writing to the city council, Trevor Bailey explains: “To change the shop below into a bar and a restaurant will seriously affect the lives of all the residents who live above.

“[There will be] noise pollution from customers, deliveries and music.

“Then there is the smell from cooking and food waste and the threat of encouraging rats into the area.

The site had been leased to Computers 4 Africa after Currys moved out of the store
The site had been leased to Computers 4 Africa after Currys moved out of the store

“Are these residents now going to be made to keep their windows closed through the summer months due to the extra noise and smell? And what impact will this have on property values.”

Resident Jayne Hooper also says she feels “most vulnerable” when walking past pubs after 10pm.

“I have since learnt to avoid such places wherever possible but how would I be able to do this if it is on my doorstep?," she writes.

"There is a nice little sheltered area around the corner from the proposed Slug & Lettuce just ripe for anyone wanting to relieve themselves after a boozy evening.

“Will I have to suffer this sight and smell on a regular basis I wonder? I certainly see it, along with the empty food cartons, outside the pubs near Northgate.”

"We’ve got 50-odd pubs in the city as it is, so there are plenty of places for people to go and there’s not a huge demand for it..."

Ms Hooper adds: "Really, we are just 80 metres away from Canterbury Cathedral, visited by pilgrims from all over the world.

"Britain already has a bad reputation for having drunken louts. Do we really need this?"

Planning documents submitted by the company note that Slug & Lettuces often transition “into more of a late-night bar or pub providing live DJs and cocktails” after they stop serving food at 9pm.

The chain attempted to move into the prominent site 18 years ago.

But the proposals were thrown out by a planning inspector, who supported Canterbury City Council's view that the new bar would generate problems for neighbours.

Former city council planner Bob Britnell
Former city council planner Bob Britnell

Bob Britnell, who was the local authority’s chief planning officer at the time, told KentOnline: “Police objected because they said there was a pub crawl circuit that went down Burgate from the Wetherspoon.

“Nothing has changed in this area to suddenly make this new application acceptable.

“We’ve got 50-odd pubs in the city as it is, so there are plenty of places for people to go and there’s not a huge demand for it.

“I want to make sure at a time that people are preoccupied with things like coronavirus, this doesn’t slip quietly through.”

A Slug & Lettuce spokesman said: "Whilst a planning application for change of use has been submitted, the future plans for this space are yet to be determined.”

An operator for the proposed restaurant has not yet been found.

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