New Southsea food bar selling vegan meals is given the go-ahead for former Laura Ashley shop

The Laura Ashley store which is being turned into a cafe and bar
The Laura Ashley store which is being turned into a cafe and bar
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COUNCILLORS have backed plans to transform an empty shop into a new café and bar which sells vegan food.

Loungers Limited’s bid to convert the former Laura Ashley unit in Palmerston Road, Southsea, was approved yesterday.

Portsmouth City Council’s licensing sub-committee granted permission for the site to sell food and alcohol until 11.30pm Sunday to Wednesday and 12.30am Thursday to Saturday.

The new family-friendly restaurant will feature a diverse menu, including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.

It’s hoped the café will pull more shoppers into the Southsea street, propping up the local community.

Councillor Lee Mason, chairman of the licensing sub-committee, said: ‘We would prefer a shop to be back in there but as more and more retail goes online this can’t always happen.

‘But hopefully this new site will draw people in during the day and have them shopping in the Southsea area.’

He added: ‘The main crux of this is that they do breakfast and lunch – it’s an all-day operation. Hopefully this will attract more people.’

The restaurant, which will be called Southsea Lounge, will spread over two floors of the former Laura Ashley shop.

In its application, the firm behind the new café said: ‘The proposed operation will be a food-led continental style café/bar with food available all day and an external area at the front of the venue within the recessed entrance.’

A neighbour had raised concerns over the ‘large problem with late night anti-social behaviour’ in Palmerston Road, which they said led to a number of drunken fights in the street.

However, councillors dismissed these worries during their meeting.

As previously reported, fashion and home company Laura Ashley closed in July last year as part of the company’s national shake-up.