A Pepe’s Piri Piri restaurant may be opening soon in a former high street bank
Maidstone council has received a planning application to convert the ground floor and basement of No 16 High Street, Maidstone, into a 46-seat restaurant and takeaway.
The building was formerly the TSB bank, which closed in May 2022. It is currently empty.
The ground floor of the building is in the “monumental” style, typical of many banks in Maidstone, but the upper floors of the four-storey building are mock-Tudor.
Although the building has timber frames, mullioned windows and even a jettied attic floor, it was in fact erected in 1903. Nevertheless, it is Grade II listed and falls within the Maidstone town centre conservation area.
The applicant, businessman Raheem Ullah of Hsz Foods Ltd, argues that the conversion to a restaurant will not adversely affect any of the building’s heritage qualities and in fact will help to preserve it by bringing it back into life.
In July 2019, a window pane fell out of one of the upper storeys of the building, fortunately missing pedestrians below.
In May this year, a similar incident happened with a 10ft length of timber falling from the building and crashing onto the ground below.
There is a bus stop right outside the property. One shopper waiting at the stop said it was a “miracle” she wasn’t killed.
The application does not specify that Pepe’s is the intended restaurant, but drawings within the plan show the building sporting the Pepe’s chicken logo.
The large franchise restaurant chain has 181 branches, mostly in the north of the country. The nearest to Maidstone currently is in Camden Road in Tunbridge Wells.
Plans indicate all the seating will be on the ground floor, with the basement used for storage and for staff toilets and changing.
The staff will find they have to share the area with two large safes, left from the building’s banking days, which remain in situ.
There is some contradictory information within the application papers.
At one stage, the applicant suggests the restaurant’s opening hours will be from 11.30am to 11.30pm every day including Sunday. In another part, it suggests the restaurant will open at 11am
The applicant is also having difficulty making up his mind how many staff the restaurant will employ, at one stage the plans suggest there will be four full-time and four part-time staff, at another they suggest 10 staff will be employed.
The former bank’s cashpoint machine fitting will be removed and replaced with glazing.
Details of the application can be viewed here.
Look for application number 23/504266