A plan to transform a grade II list town centre shop premises into a large Italian restaurant – the third in a market town with about 8,000 residents – has been recommended for approval.
The owners of the premises in Richmond Market Place, which has a coffee shop on one side and the Shanghai City Chinese Takeaway, said they were applying to change the use of the premises as efforts to market the property for retail use had proved unsuccessful.
The application has been submitted by Uno Ristorante, which already has outlets in Yarm and Middlebrough.
The restaurant is planned to have up to 90 covers and be open until 10pm, which the applicant says would see up to 15 people employed and help support the evening economy.
However, ahead of Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee considering the application, businesses in the town said the loss of a large shop premises would be a blow to Richmond town centre.
The businesses said that they did not believe the owners, who run restaurants in Yarm and Middlesbrough, had a genuine interest in finding a retailer to take it on.
A spokesman for the Original Richmond Business and Tourism Association said the property had been of interest its members, but no one had been able to contact the seller’s agents.
Planning officers said the presence of two other Italian restaurants in the town could not be taken into account in the decision. Recommending the scheme be granted, planning officers said it would promote employment and benefit the Market Place.