Published: 14:44, 02 May 2022
| Updated: 14:46, 02 May 2022
Plans for a wine restaurant in a village already home to three pubs have been given the go-ahead.
Residents in Bridge were divided over proposals from Woodchurch Investments Ltd to open a new “high-class” venue in the high street.
Concerned neighbours shared fears the village would simply become a place “known for drinkers” if plans to turn the former Skippers site were rubber-stamped by Canterbury City Council.
But developers, who are confident the restaurant will “complement” the existing premises in operation in the area, have now been given the green light to convert the redundant site into a new business.
The old Skippers eatery, opposite the Plough and Harrow Inn, has been empty for years following its closure.
Under its new lease of life, it will be called the Wine Rooms, with the neighbouring garage also being converted into a dining space.
Speaking to KentOnline's sister title the Kentish Gazette prior to getting planning permission, David Taplin, the director of Woodchurch, said he was confident the venture would be a success.
“We know there are a number of places to eat in Bridge, but we think this will be different," he said.
"We’re looking for a more tapas style with small bites of food. It’ll be quite funky in terms of design, and a fun place to go to.
“We wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t think it’ll sit well. Bridge is definitely becoming quite a place to come to. Our plan is to be casual, so you don’t have to go in for two or three-course meals.
“This poor old building has been in a sad state for years. It doesn’t have a car park but there are lots of places one can park, and it’s on a bus route.”
Mr Taplin hopes to attract a "wide range of clientèle", which he believes would be of great benefit to the area.
Unimpressed villagers labelled the vision as "ludicrous", with a number stressing how the elderly population of Bridge does not require another drinking establishment.
The scheme also sparked fears it will exacerbate parking problems in the village, but planning officers and the city council have batted away the criticism.
In granting permission, they said: "The proposed development provides no off-street parking.
"However, a parking survey has been provided to which KCC Highways raise no objection.
"This is on the basis that there would be sufficient on street parking available at peak times and as such the proposal would not have any unacceptable highways safety impact."
The restaurant is set to close at 11.30pm six days a week, and at 10.30pm on Sundays.