Plans to turn a Herefordshire church into a restaurant have gained approval despite ongoing concerns over noise.
Dating from 1849, Ledbury Methodist Chapel on the town’s Homend has been empty since 2019. Though not listed, it lies near several buildings which are, within the town’s conservation area.
Mike Etheridge Construction proposed converting it into a restaurant with a manager’s flat in the basement.
The firm’s previous bid to turn it into a wine bar was rejected, and a subsequent appeal dismissed, over the issue of noise. A planning inspector eventually concluded that a late-night venue would deprive nearby residents of “a legitimate expectation of a reasonable degree of tranquillity”.
In light of this, the new application for planning permission instead proposed a restaurant, whose “frequency and nature of visitors would likely be fewer and less rowdy”, and which would close at 10pm.
However among the seven objections from the public this time round, Kathy Malia claimed that “the assumption that people visiting a restaurant will cause less noise disturbance is naive to say the least”.
Other objections were on grounds of likely odour, smoking, traffic, parking and loss of privacy. However the town council did not object this time.
Conditions with the approval restrict delivery times, require a noise management plan be stuck to, and prevent the flat being used or sold separately to the restaurant.
Plans with the application show a new fascia and illuminated signboard above the building’s front porch. But the restaurant will still need to apply for advertisement consent before putting up any signage, the council’s planning officer pointed out.