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Whitstable: Dirties wins bid to open at former NatWest bank

By Jack Dyson

Controversial plans to open a Mexican-inspired bar and restaurant on the site of a former High Street bank have been given the green light.

Councillors this week voted to approve the bid to launch a Dirties within the building previously occupied by NatWest in Whitstable.

The application had sparked a number of objections from neighbours concerned about an increase in late-night noise.

Plans have been submitted to change the NatWest building into a Mexican restaurant
Plans have been submitted to change the NatWest building into a Mexican restaurant

They centred particularly on plans to have an outside drinking area behind the bar, which backs onto Middle Wall.

It will be open from 10am to 9pm from Monday to Saturday and from midday to 9pm on Sundays.

Christian Brewer, the secretary of the Whitstable Town Centre Residents’ Association, argued it would detrimentally affect his members.

“We already have three pub gardens in Middle Wall and do not want a fourth,” he said.

“We have many reported incidents on how they affect our residents’ lives during the day and evenings.

The High Street bank could be transformed into a "laid-back” Mexican restaurant and cocktail bar
The High Street bank could be transformed into a "laid-back” Mexican restaurant and cocktail bar

“Some of them sleep with earplugs in at night because they cannot sleep.”

Addressing the planning committee as a member of the public, city councillor Bernadette Fisher (Gorrell, Lab) said those living in Middle Wall will be disturbed by the clinking of glasses and chatter from the outdoor area.

“We would ask that councillors consider limiting the activities that can take place in the yard: why does it need to be the smoking area when other pubs’ patrons smoke in the High Street?,” Ms Fisher added.

Nine committee members voted to approve the application, three were against it and one abstained.

Whitstable Cllr Ashley Clark (Con) noted that many of the grievances voiced beforehand were licensing issues and not those of planning.

The husband and wife team hope to replicate their success with Dirties in Hertford
The husband and wife team hope to replicate their success with Dirties in Hertford

“I cannot see any particular planning reason for this not to be granted,” he said.

“If the problems that are foreseen do arise, the licensing committee has it in its power to alter and amend the terms.”

Plans to convert the former bank, which closed its doors for good last year, were submitted by Iceni Projects on behalf of Dirties’ Martin and Jo Smith.

The husband and wife duo are looking to replicate the success of its only other branch in Hertford.

The restaurant will seat 50 diners in the main dining area, alongside a small cocktail bar.

Dirties’s licence will be considered at the next licensing sub-committee meeting today at 11am.

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