PLANS for a new restaurant in Fareham town centre have been approved despite strong opposition from locals.
The restaurant will go in a building in West Street which used to be a Halifax Building Society but has been empty since 2008.
Councillors at Fareham’s planning committee have given permission despite the council receiving five letters objecting to the plans plus a petition with 53 signatures.
The petition came from residents of the nearby Moresby Court Residents Association – a block of sheltered housing flats.
It is not clear what type of restaurant it will be, as a few different options are being considered by the applicant.
There were differing views from councillors about the new business’s chance of success. Lib Dem councillor Katrina Trott of Fareham East, said: ‘The very best of luck to anybody who wants to have a restaurant on West Street.
‘There are too many and some of them are already closing.’
The new restaurant would cover both the ground and the first floor, opening between 7am and 11pm every day of the week.
An external extraction system will also be fitted.
Concerns had been raised about the noise, smells and air pollution from a new restaurant.
A lack of parking and the impact a new restaurant could have on the environment were also concerns.
Conservative councillor Arthur Mandry, who represents Hill Head, referred to Stones – a cafe and restaurant which recently opened in the town.
He said it showed there was a market for eating out.
‘It’s full every time I have been there,’ he said.
‘It’s giving the public what they want. It’s busy.
‘If you are offering the right food to the public, they will go.’
Lib Dem councillor Roger Price, from Portchester East, added: ‘I would like to know what sort of restaurant it’s going to be. According to the type of restaurant it is, that says what smells we are going to get. I would like to have known what sort of establishment it was.
‘Then one would be able to make a better judgement.’
Tory councillor Nick Gregory, who represents Fareham West, added: ‘It’s our responsibility to make sure that our town centres are viable for business.
‘The building has been empty for years.’