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Turtle Bay submits plans to open Caribbean restaurant in Canterbury

A taste of the Caribbean is coming to Canterbury if a national chain wins its bid to open a three-storey restaurant in the shadow of the Cathedral.

Turtle Bay wants to open on the site of three neighbouring shop units in historic Butchery Lane, replacing the vacant Oasis bar and Toni and Guy salon, and the Optical Express opticians.

An official application has been submitted, but given the scale of the development it will likely be decided by the council’s planning committee early next year.

A new Turtle Bay restaurant will be opening in Canterbury
A new Turtle Bay restaurant will be opening in Canterbury

If approved, the restaurant would be Turtle Bay’s first in Kent, with the nearest of its 37 branches currently in Croydon.

The firm’s property manager George Waite says Canterbury has long been on its radar.

“It has a reasonably large and young aspiring population,” he said in a letter supporting the application.

“The city centre is busy and vibrant and we believe we can become something different to the current restaurant offer in Canterbury.

“We are typically targeting city centre locations which can offer a mix of daytime and evening activity.

“We like buildings that offer character and always design each restaurant to suit the city, location and building itself.”

Mr Waite says Turtle Bay is particularly keen on the Butchery Lane site because it is close to the high street, but also “tucked away in an interesting location with a number of other restaurants and bars in the immediate vicinity”.

He added: “While the property may not be suitable for retail use because of inferior footfall and prominence, we believe we can succeed here by creating a little escape in the centre of the city.

Turtle Bay's Just Jerk Platter
Turtle Bay's Just Jerk Platter

“We trade very successfully in similar locations in Oxford, Bath and York, and believe this site is quite comparable.”

Butchery Lane is already home to two pubs and two restaurants, with the proposed Turtle Bay site opposite Mexican eatery Club Burrito.

Real estate consultants Green and Partners first marketed the location to restaurant operators in the summer of 2015, attracting more than 15 “swift responses”.

Matt Beardall, a partner with the firm, says retail shops - referred to in planning terms as class A1 - were put off by how narrow the historic street is.

“It is our strong opinion that given the narrow nature of the thoroughfare, A1 demand would be virtually non-existent and that a vibrant and exciting operator such as Turtle Bay would an excellent addition to not only Butchery Lane but the city in general.”

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