Wagamama has filed a licensing application as well as a planning appeal in its continuing bid to open a restaurant in Reigate.
The chain wants to set up at the former Edward Dean premises on the ground floor of 33-35 Bell Street.
The licensing application, made to Reigate & Banstead Borough Council, relates to late opening, recorded music and the supply of alcohol. Customers would be served up until midnight Monday – Saturday, and to 11.30pm on Sundays.
The separate planning appeal filed with the Government’s Planning Inspectorate has yet to be decided.
Back in April the borough council’s planning committee refused Wagamama permission to change the use of the premises from retail to restaurant. This was because that part of Bell Street already had less than 75% retail frontage against a policy minimum of 80%.
It was noted at the committee that the decision was about a restaurant use in general, rather than a Wagamama specifically.
Wagamama was also said not to have given enough information about attempts to first market the site for retail use.
But in the appeal, agent JLL, on behalf of Wagamama, argues that the council should have given the go-ahead:
“The appeal case is that this application for a change of use from A1 [retail] to A3 [restaurant] use will support and enhance the vitality and viability of Reigate Town Centre through the addition of a high quality, well known national A3 restaurant retailer, and is therefore supported by national and local policies.”
The papers note the 80% frontage limit set out in the 2005 local policy, but add:
“However, this level of A1 frontage has already been breached. In addition, the general policy direction has changed since 2005, to allow for greater flexibility of town centre uses in light of changing shopping patterns and consumer expectations”.
The prospect of increased footfall for that part of the town is flagged, with an estimated 2,500 diners a week using the restaurant.
JLL says that the site is unlikely to appeal to retailers and that informal marketing of the site took place from October 2015.
Among other points, local support for Wagamama is mentioned, such as the online petition calling for the chain to come to the town – signed by 1,450 people as of 14 July.
Reigate.uk has asked Wagamama about its plans, including the licensing application, but the chain has not yet commented.
Wagamama also originally made a signage application. Part of this was approved by the borough council, but projecting signs were turned down because of position and lighting concerns. (Rejection of initial signage plans is not that uncommon in Reigate: often an amended plan is later filed and approved.)
- Our previous Wagamama coverage, including the council decision and petition.
- Planning application 15/02290/CU
- Licensing application 16/01/01091/LAPREM
- Signage application 15/02291/ADV
UPDATE: the appeal paperwork is available online at 15/02290/CU/AP