Restaurant row erupts again

PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 July 2011




A LONG-RUNNING battle over a proposal for a Frankie and Benny's restaurant on the edge of Weston has reignited, with the developer and unitary authority locking horns again.

A one-day planning inquiry was held over plans for the Italian-American restaurant and a Costa Coffee at Flowerdown Retail Park.

It was launched after Cranford Developments lodged an appeal following North Somerset Council’s rejection of the plans last year.

The hearing, held at Somerset House in Weston, saw representatives from the council and developer outline their cases to an independent planning inspector.

The Staffordshire-based company says the two units would be opened to offer refreshments to shoppers visiting the retail park and would not harm town centre trade.

In a statement to the inquiry hearing, a spokesman for the firm said: “The provision of food and drinks facilities, such as Costa and Frankie, are commonly found at retail parks across the country and are widely accepted to be complementary facilities to the main retail offer.

“For this reason, the proposed retail units will not encourage an increase in the number of vehicle trips to the existing retail park, but will facilitate the more efficient use of an exciting retail destination.”

But senior council planning officers have long been against the idea, maintaining the outlets would take trade away from the town centre.

In a report for refusal of the planning application, North Somerset Council’s case officer Andrew Stevenson said: “It will undoubtedly attract customers who are not visiting the retail units and will become a destination in its own right – attracting trade and expenditure that would otherwise be directed to the town centre.”

Following the hearing, Cranford Developments’ planning director Mark Parry said: “It’s very difficult to say how it went, but we are hopeful the local support will have helped us.

“There was one objection for the application on commercial grounds and that one objector did not turn up for the inquiry.

“You have to remember that this is just for two small units to serve the retail park, it will not make a difference to the town centre.”

A decision from the planning inquiry is not expected for at least two months.

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