A decision is expected this week on Wagamama’s planning application for a restaurant in Reigate.
The site is the former Edward Dean premises on the corner of Bell Street and Bancroft Road. Only the ground floor is affected.
Reigate & Banstead Borough Council’s planning committee will hear the matter on Wednesday 6 April. The application is for a change of use from retail (class A1) to restaurant (class A3).
A report from a council officer recommends that the plans be refused, on the basis that the retail frontage for Zone D of the town centre will be be significantly reduced to less than 80%. Zone D is made up of the odd numbers 1 – 35 in Bell Street, where the council says the retail frontage is already down to 75%. The 80% threshold for primary shopping areas is set out in planning policy Sh7, part of the Reigate & Banstead Local Plan.
The officer’s report explains that a number of other factors can also be taken into account, with a presumption in favour of sustainable development. However, the officer adds that there is a lack of information on attempts to first find a retail tenant for the site. His report also says that the county highway authority has looked into traffic and parking and has no objection, and that the council’s conservation officer also has no objection subject to a condition (about the painting of a ventilation flue).
A letter filed on Wagamama’s behalf, prior to the council report, sets out points in favour of the plans, and states:
“While policy seeks to limit the percentage of Reigate town centre’s shopping frontages not in Class A1 use, restaurant (Class C3) is a recognised town centre use that adds to and enhances vitality, vibrancy and the evening economy.
Furthermore, the overall impact of the proposed change of use is exceptionally low. This is not a speculative planning application, and Wagamama is an established, high quality brand which operates popular, waiter serviced restaurants.”
The letter adds:
“In short, this change of use will deliver a quality restaurant in a location that sits on the fringes of the Primary Shopping Area supporting a variety of uses in the centre and attracting visitors throughout the day.
We are therefore of the view that the proposals accord with relevant planning policy and ask that planning permission be granted.”
The Reigate Society has objected to the application:
“The street side business structure of Reigate is progressively becoming less retail and significantly oriented towards food and drinks outlets.
This cannot be good for the ongoing high street face of the town, which though attractive will be less so if the only retail outlets are shrunk to essentially a couple of supermarkets, jewellery shops, some clothes stores, banks and charity shops. “
The planning committee meeting starts at 7.30pm on Wednesday 6 April. The proceedings can be viewed on a Council webcasting page, and the application itself (ref. 15/02290/CU) and related documents are also online.
Edited 06 April 2016