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Wine Rooms plan faces opposition from Bridge residents who say village already has enough pubs


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Residents say opening a wine restaurant in a village already home to three pubs is a “ludicrous” idea.

They fear Bridge, outside Canterbury, will simply become a place “known for drinkers” if plans to turn the former Skippers site in the high street into a new venue are approved.

The centre of Bridge is already home to three pubs
The centre of Bridge is already home to three pubs

But the firm behind the scheme, Woodchurch Investments Ltd, says the Wine Rooms will attract a wide range of clientèle and be a benefit to the area.

It is confident the redevelopment of the restaurant will “complement” the existing premises in operation in the area – including the Bridge Arms, Red Lion and Plough and Harrow.

However, a number of Bridge residents have hit out the proposals, including Kiran Dhaliwal, who said: “I think the idea of a wine bar in this village is quite a ludicrous notion when there are already four places to drink in this village.

“I think it should be considered what kind of crowd Bridge is looking to attract, adding in a drinking place definitely sends a message that this village is to be known for drinkers.

“This is a small village with many elderly residents, I don’t think a wine bar is something we need.”

The redundant high street site primed to become the Wine Rooms
The redundant high street site primed to become the Wine Rooms

A pub worker – who did not want to be named – also questions the need for a wine bar and says the village currently has a “nice balance to it”.

They also raised concerns about the lack of available parking in the high street – a worry shared by a number of villagers.

Jane Callow said: “Parking in the high street is already a major problem for residents. Unfortunately, once you move from your parking spot it is highly unlikely you will be able to park in the same place when you return.

“I can only imagine this situation is going to worsen with more people visiting the area.”

Sharon Arnold added: “We already have three lovely pubs and a superb hotel. Three of these already serve good food and wine. We feel this is more than adequate.”

Those behind the scheme hope to attract a wide clientèle
Those behind the scheme hope to attract a wide clientèle

If approved, the old Skippers site, which is a Grade II-listed property, would offer both indoor and outdoor seating. It would serve up wines and food and applicants say it will “not harm the character” of the village.

Speaking to KentOnline's sister publication, the Kentish Gazette, David Taplin, director of Woodchurch, said: "This won’t be a late-night bar with music and people spilling into the streets in the early hours. I can categorically say that, as the doors will be shut way before.

“We know there are number of places to eat in Bridge but we think this will be different.

"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.

David Taplin, the man behind the plans, has defended his vision
David Taplin, the man behind the plans, has defended his vision

“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.”

Planning documents suggest the restaurant’s opening hours will be until 1am but Mr Taplin has confirmed that will not be the case.

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