Published: 17:36, 03 May 2021
| Updated: 17:39, 03 May 2021
Developers have been given the go-ahead to turn a former Currys PC World store into a new bar - but its planned 2am closing time has been reined in.
The proposals for the eyesore site on the corner of Longmarket and Burgate in Canterbury have been in the pipeline for a year, with national chain Slug & Lettuce originally planning on moving in.
But the firm has since pulled out of the project, blaming the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality industry.
Despite Slug & Lettuce's departure, the application to convert the large space into a bar remained - and it has now been given the green light by the city council.
The authority hopes the redevelopment will enhance the rundown premises, which is regularly used by rough sleepers and attracts a build-up of unsightly rubbish.
In rubber-stamping the proposal, the council said: "It is considered that the introduction of a bar at a point where there has been no active retail use since 2016 would contribute to the vitality and viability of the wider town centre, while also bringing this part of Burgate back into an active and engaging commercial use."
The approval comes despite residents in neighbouring flats expressing fears over drunken revellers vomiting and urinating in the street.
While it did not object, Kent Police also raised “significant concerns” over the proposed late opening hours.
Applicants LaFarge UK Pension Trustees Limited originally hoped to have the site in operation from 10am until 2am every day.
Along with a number of fearful residents, Canterbury Cathedral’s estate, the Dean & Chapter, which owns scores of surrounding units in the Burgate area, called for the weekend hours to be reduced.
The concerns were listened to, with council planning officers setting conditions which tighten the hours the business can operate.
It must close no later than 11pm from Monday to Thursday, midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and is restricted to an earlier closing time of 10pm on Sundays.
Outdoor seating, which will cater for a maximum of 15 customers, cannot operate after 9pm.
Despite the noise concerns from neighbours, the council said the "benefits of the proposal would outweigh any potential cumulative noise and disturbance impact".
In the divisive application process, 15 people objected while 19 lodged their support.
Prior to being empty, previous landlord DSG Retail had been leasing the store to Computers 4 Africa - but the charity rarely used the premises.