Former Royston Peacocks to become a restaurant?

PUBLISHED: 07:03 16 May 2013

Peacocks shop in Royston

Peacocks shop in Royston

Archant

ONE of Royston High Street’s biggest empty shops could be transformed into a restaurant.

Blackwater Securities, the company which owns the vacant store formerly occupied by Peacocks, has applied to change the use of the building from class A1 (retail) to A3 (restaurant/cafe).

Royston Town Council’s planning committee backed the move despite some opposition from members.

New mayor of Royston, Cllr Bob Smith, was against the move, and said: “We know there’s another major development happening for retail in the town [the proposed convenience store on Market Hill], so it’s obvious that a developer has seen a need for a large retail outlet and is spending millions on it. Yet we are being told there is no-one coming forward to take this shop.

“Is the owner of Peacocks looking for the quick and easy option to get someone in? I suspect this is the case.

“There are already plenty of eating establishments in the town, do we want Royston to just become a restaurant area?”

Peacocks closed down in February 2012, and the shop has been vacant ever since despite rumours of interest from supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s.

Cllr F John Smith said: “I would much rather see it was used for some purpose now than hang around waiting for something to happen.

“We should make it clear that we understand what’s happening [on the High Street] and that we would rather have the premises in use than vacant.”

Cllr John Davison added: “I don’t think it’s our position to prevent development. If a restaurateur believes they can make a go of it I don’t think we should stand in their way.”

The proposals will now be considered by North Herts District Council’s planning committee, which will have the final say on the scheme.

The town council committee also backed plans to make major alterations to the first floor of the building, so it can accommodate 11 flats.

Campaigner Clive Porter has started a petition against the change, which he believes would be “disastrous” for the High Street.

“We already have more than enough cafes and restaurants, we need more space for retail not less,” he said.

● What do you think? Can Royston accommodate another restaurant? Email postbag@royston-crow.co.uk

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