Italian restaurant chain snubs new square wait

EAGER bosses of an Italian restaurant chain say they cannot wait on the building of a shopping complex in Weston town centre for a new outlet.

Frankie & Benny’s has hit back at claims the company could jeopardise the planned Dolphin Square development by operating an outlet on the edge of town.

Developer McLaren Life said the chain was among the businesses targeted for its �35million regeneration of the town centre area, and its absence could impact attracting other operators.

But, speaking on behalf of Frankie & Benny’s, agents Indigo said they did not believe the complex, which would have 16 retail units, would be open in time to meet the targeted outlet opening.

In a letter to North Somerset Council, spokesman Abbie Scudamore predicted the scheme would take twice the estimated time to complete, and be open not before 2015.

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Ms Scudamore said: “Even in the instance that the application is submitted as anticipated and determined within statutory timeframes, in light of the relocation of existing uses, land assembly, demolition and construction works that are required to enable the redevelopment scheme to come forward, we do not expect the premises could be completed before 2015 at the very earliest.

“Overall it remains the case that the Dolphin Square scheme is not available to accommodate the proposed unit in the short term.”

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She also said the Dolphin Square site did not suit the restaurant’s traditional aim, to meet the refreshment needs of visitors to out-of-town retail parks.

The firm submitted a planning application to open an outlet alongside a proposed Costa Coffee at Flowerdown Retail Park in October.

But the proposal frustrated McLaren Life, which said the two firms were among those targeted to become operators at the regenerated Dolphin Square.

The town centre scheme would include a 1,200-seat, eight-screen cinema run by operator Vue Cinemas, indoor bowling alley plus 16 retail and restaurant units.

There would also be a 112-bed Premier Inn hotel and Brewers Fayre restaurant, plus a 380-space car park off Carlton Street.

The developer, which is targeting spring as a date to start work on the site, says the new centre would create about 450 jobs.

The planning application for the Frankie & Benny’s and Costa Coffee is likely to be decided by a committee of North Somerset councillors next month.

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