The Southern Planning Committee this afternoon approved plans to convert No 50 Broad Street, which has the Golden Moments restaurant on its ground floor, into a town house. The vote was near unanimous with one councillor abstaining.

Most committee members were enthusiastic about the proposal. Councillors thought it would be better as a town house, including Viv Parry who said: “I really want this to go back to a residential house”.

This decision is damaging to the retail and economic health of the town centre. It is the first time the Southern Planning Committee has made a decision that could close a legitimate business. But planning committee members had no regard for the popularity of the venue, or the fact it had been there for two decades. They had a chocolate box view of what Broad Street should look like and Golden Moments didn’t fit in to that.

Surprisingly there was no one at the meeting representing the applicant or Golden Moments, or Ludlow Town Council (though that is less surprising).

In presenting their report, which recommended approving the application, officers said the town centre will not be losing a restaurant (because it is 30 metres outside the designated town centre) and there were plenty of other restaurants nearby. They said that points made during the consultation were not sufficient to merit rejection of the proposal.

In my presentation, I emphasised to the committee that Golden Moments is in a zone known as edge of centre. National and local planning policies allowed town centre uses, including restaurants in this zone. The debate continued after I had left the committee room in line with council protocols.

Claire Wild (Severn Valley) spoke first. She said that although I had said it was only 30 metres outside the centre, Golden Moments is “quite a way down the road” and there aren’t shops either side of it. Turning the restaurant back into a house will fit the street quite well. It’s quite a nice residential bit down there. It will improve the streetscene by having a house there.

Richard Marshall (Worfield) said he know Broad Street well. Although I had said that were no suitable alternative properties available, he had just done a Google search and found four vacant retail units within ten seconds. The owner’s aspirations to turn the property back into a Victorian townhouse to make it a quieter, more liveable area is quite admirable and it’s the sort of area where he might want to live. What if we had been looking at turning a townhouse into a restaurant, we’d say no way. He said he was 100% behind turning Golden Moments into a house.

Caroline Bagnall (Broseley) said she had doubts about the proposal. It currently looks like quite a pleasant street scene. It is always sad to see a well-loved business having to move on, however, turning the building into residential accommodation also had its merits.

Viv Parry (Ludlow South) said Broad Street is a residential street. She spoke about Oriel House, which had been derelict. She spoke about car parking outside Golden Moments and on Broad Street. She was all for Golden Moments going back to a residential house. There was another Indian restaurant up the street which is in the town centre. After complaining about the state of the pavements, she said: “I really want this to go back to a residential house”.

And that was what the planning committee voted for.

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