Penarth Town Council’s planning committee is supporting a change of use for the former “Blockbuster” video-hire premises on the corner of Hickman Road and Windsor Road , Penarth to a new Brew Stone restaurant and bar.
Since Blockbuster went bust back in December 2013 there has been a series of initiatives to set up new businesses at the premises. The sequence was as follows:-
- January 2014: Councillors considering a previous application to covert the premises into a restaurant express fears that McDonald’s, is planning to move in
- March 2014: There’s speculation that Domino’s Pizza will be setting up a pizza takeaway there.
- August 2014 : Despite having obtained planning permission for a takeaway at Blockbusters, Domino’s decides to look at the vacant former “Tropical Tandoori“ premises in Windsor Terrace instead.
October 2015: Prezzo encounters an objection to its £750,000 plan – which is supported by Penarth Town Council – to convert the Spar supermarket in Windsor Road into a new two-floor restaurant . The Vale of Glamorgan planning officer handling the case says he is “minded to refuse” Prezzo’s plan. Vale and Penarth Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) supports the officer’s decision, “calls-in” the proposal and proposes that Prezzo set up at Blockbuster instead . There is a major row.
- November 2014 : Prezzo dismisses Burnett’s alternative out of hand, sticks to its guns and eventually wins approval for the Spar site in Windsor Road.
- February 2015 : the property company- BP2 – signs a 15-year-deal with Swansea company Brew Stone to lease the old Blockbuster premises.
- January 2016 Brew Stone makes a planning application for “change of use” of the Blockbuster store into a new Brew Stone pub/restaurant . Brew Stone says wants to develop the Penarth outlet as the foundation of a new restaurant chain which will specialise in wood-fire cuisine, fresh salads, coffees, quality wines and craft beers. A new flue will be installed for a “wood-burning pizza oven”. Brew Stone said “The idea is to promote and unite all businesses on Windsor Road as a social realm with evening vibrance, energy and activity “
- February 2016: Penarth Town Council’s planning committee considers the Brew Stone plan.
In this week’s planning committee meeting, the Town Clerk Shan Bowden reminded members that the site is not in the Penarth Conservation Area. The Brew Stone scheme includes the development of the basement and ground floor with the first and second floors being developed as a seven bedroom apartment. There will be a “22-cover“ [i.e. table places] restaurant in the basement and a “119–cover” restaurant on the ground floor.
Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward) asked whether the occupants of the 7-bedroom apartment would be working at the premises. The Town Clerk said this was not stated in the application.
Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) said 7 bedrooms were unusual but it was a good thing. There were , he said, an “awful lot” of vacant first floors over retail premises in the town centre and they could all provide low-cost housing. He welcomed the idea of there being some living accommodation in the scheme. He asked whether Brew Stone would be a “bar” or a “restaurant“.
Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) – in the chair – said it would have both and would be “quite a high-profile place ” . It would be, he said ” yet another destination restaurant for Penarth and for this corner of Wales“.
Cllr Roberts said that when Prezzo had applied to come to Penarth, the [Vale of Glamorgan] planning officer had queried “the number of restaurants in one block” . He said he thought that the measure should be “what type of town Penarth is – and if it’s a destination/ visitors’ town, it’s quite important to take more than the usual number of restaurants and cafes, because it gets people in”. He thought this was the observation the planning committee should make.
Cllr Thomas said that with the “widening of the night-time economy in Penarth” it would be interesting to see how the other retail outlets – normally closed in the evenings – responded to all the footfall outside their doors.
The Mayor, Cllr Rosemary Cook (Labour St Augustines), reminded members that there was a new cocktail bar [ called “Etcetera”] being set up in the former Sugo restaurant on Stanwell Road.
Cllr Martin Turner said that people applying for licences would have “looked at the market that’s here” and had decided it was worth investing in a restaurant in Penarth.
Cllr Neil Thomas agreed, saying it was “a matter of market forces” . He wondered however whether there was a “tipping point” when there were too many such premises – and when some started to fail – but said this was not a planning committee matter.
The committee decided to support the Brew Stone application . The final decision will be made by the Vale of Glamorgan planning committee.