Inverclyde’s planning board chairman will be especially pleased with one decision made by councillors, as it means he can finally satisfy his appetite for sit-in Indian food in his local town centre.
Councillor David Wilson declared at Wednesday’s meeting of the board:
“I would like to go somewhere in Port Glasgow, sit down and get a curry. You can’t do that at the moment.”
Happily, for him, councillors voted six votes to four to approve an Indian restaurant and takeaway at the former Aulds the Bakers shop at Princes Street in Port Glasgow. The eatery will have 34 seats and be open from 2pm to 11pm, Monday to Saturday and 4pm to 11pm on Sundays.
Councillor Drew McKenzie, who runs a butcher’s shop in Princes Street, was strongly opposed to the plan saying there were already 12 hot food takeaways nearby and that the council should be encouraging a better mix of outlets.
He said the new eatery would not benefit the shops in the town centre because the “shutters would be down” until the afternoon, adding:
“I would welcome a restaurant with open arms but what we are basically getting is another takeaway.”
Councillor Jim McEleny supported the application saying it would give shoppers using the nearby retail park another restaurant option.
Councillor John Crowther agreed, pointing out that it would be on the walking route from Port Glasgow station for those heading to and from the retail park.
Council officials had backed the proposal. Nick McLaren of the planning department told the meeting there were 80 units in Port Glasgow town centre so there was still scope for a wide range of retail uses even with a dozen takeaways.
He said that, on balance, the planning department felt it was better to have a unit brought back into use, refurbished and given a new frontage, even if it was only going to trade in the afternoon and evening.
Councillor Wilson said that, as the Aulds branch had also been a cafe, the application was “basically one restaurant replacing another.”
He added: “We have spent a lot of money on improving the town centre. I am told 25 per cent of the shop floor space in the town centre is vacant. Another empty unit is the last thing we need.”
A petition with 302 signatures had been submitted to Inverclyde Council raising concerns including over-provision, traffic and cooking smells.
The report by planners had stated:
“The application site is one of a number of currently vacant retail units within the town centre and, visually, is in poor condition. The proposal to bring it back into use will eliminate a dead frontage and have a positive impact on the appearance of the street, to the benefit of the amenity of the area.
“Bringing the vacant unit back into use will also be of positive benefit to the vitality of the town centre by bringing customers into the area and increasing pedestrian activity. Whilst in the area, customers of the premises may also choose to use shops and services, benefiting existing shops and businesses.”
The report also stated: “The existing range of uses in Princes Street causes an established level of noise and activity both during the day and into the evening.”