PLANS to convert two neighbouring town centre shops into a restaurant have been approved, although the chain behind the bid is still yet to be confirmed.
The district council’s Southern Area Development Management Committee unanimously granted permission last Wednesday (July 16) to the pair of applications – including a separate proposal required because the building is listed.
The plans are to transform former shops 20 to 24 Belle Vue Terrace, Great Malvern, with the ground floor used as restaurant space while the first and second floors will be converted into bedrooms.
Birmingham based MML Malvern Ltd is behind the scheme although Coun Melanie Baker, who chaired the meeting, admitted the planning department still had ‘no idea’ what company would occupy the restaurant.
Concerns were raised on the night about what would happen to three species of bats currently residing in the building as well as whether the fire escape was adequate and whether the two shop fronts would be maintained or merged into one.
But Coun Baker said the committee was satisfied with the proposed resolutions and the latter issue would be addressed when the company applied separately for restaurant signage.
“I think generally all councillors are in favour of anything that helps brings town centres back into good use,” said Coun Baker.
“The last thing any of us want is empty shops but it has got to be done in a sympathetic way.
“The re-use of these shops will be great for the town centre. This also ties in with The Portas Review which I am a big fan of.
“We have to look at different ways we can regenerate town centres, the old way of just having shops isn’t enough anymore.”
She added: “We are now going to have more flats meaning more people will be spending their money in the town.
“We had a very, very good presentation from planning officers and a really good discussion where all our concerns were answered, which is why the committee unanimously approved both applications.”