Published: 06:00, 28 April 2020
A new vegan hotel with restaurant and rooftop terrace is to open near Margate's Old Town.
Paul Blayne, who owns Beet Bar, a popular vegan café tucked away in the corner of Market Street car park, will transform the former Hooked on Books store at 21 High Street.
The five-bed hotel will have only vegan friendly toiletries, pillows and bed covers.
Plans for the Grade II-listed building, which have been approved by Thanet council, include a restaurant on the first floor with new shopfront, a roof terrace and internal changes including an extension of the third floor and a mezzanine level.
A new "more aesthetically pleasing" frontage will also be created leading to the Beets Bar café, which is located at the back of the four-storey building.
Mr Blayne already runs Beet Beds, a two-room bed and breakfast, from the Market Street café site, which has won huge praise on Trip Advisor.
The new hotel venture will be the second phase in the roll out of the vegan accommodation.
Mr Blayne says the plan is to move the existing Beet Bar into the high street shopfront.
"On the high street level there will be Beet Bar and the reception for the hotel," he said.
"The roof terrace will be for guests and people from the bar and the gardens will be for everyone, too."
Mr Blayne, who turned vegan after opening the cafe so he could have a better diet, says it was a no-brainer to turn his accommodation vegan.
"We had opened two rooms and soon realised with having the vegan food in the bar, it wouldn't be too much of an ordeal making them vegan," he said.
"So doing away with feather pillows and having all vegan toiletries.
"It's great for vegans but also doesn't push out those who aren't."
He admits work on the hotel has ground to a halt because of the Covid-19 crisis but hopes things will pick up soon.
In a Thanet council report, case officer Gill Richardson says the latest plan, which was first given approval in 2015, includes alterations to the shopfront which are considered less harmful to the listed 1840 property and the surrounding conservation area.
"They are also considered to generally assist in improving and evolving the character and appearance of the setting of the area," she wrote.
"This proposed hotel is a short distance from Margate Old Town which is a largely developing area of Margate with a strong art influence.
"Bringing this building back into a use within the regeneration will have great perceived public benefits while ensuring the future sustainability of the Grade II-listed property and its further maintenance."
Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group submitted an objection to the plans, with claims the roof extensions would be "totally inappropriate" among a list of other concerns.
"These buildings are some of the oldest in Margate and should be preserved intact including the roof," CAAG said.
But the council stated: "Overall the proposed works are considered to result in less than substantial harm to the listed building and when weighed against the public benefits of bringing the building back into use and safeguarding it structurally, it is considered that this harm is outweighed."