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Further talks due on plans to demolish former Italian restaurant for housing

The former Miaitalia building in Bolton-le-Sands

Plans to demolish a former Italian restaurant in Bolton-le-Sands and replace it with five houses are again being recommended for refusal.

Lancaster City Council planners want to see a "robust marketing exercise" to show that the former Miaitalia premises on the Bye-pass Road is no longer feasible as a restaurant.

The council's planning committee, who previously turned down the plans in April, will meet for further talks on the matter on Monday December 5.

The proposal is to knock down the old restaurant building in Bolton-le-Sands and build three new detached houses and two semi-detached homes.

Owner David Waddington told Beyond Radio in March that the business was "no longer viable" as a restaurant in Bolton-le-Sands.

"There are reasons why that site will always struggle, and even more so now, post-Covid, as a food business," said Mr Waddington.

"Bolton-le-Sands is a fantastic village to live in and the council are crying out for people to build houses in the area.

"If I thought there was trade to be had, I would have continued as a restaurant."

Miaitalia has since moved to a new location in Morecambe town centre, pictured below with Mr Waddington on the left. The restaurant opened on Queen Street in May.

The meeting on Monday will take place at Morecambe Town Hall, starting at 10.30am, and is open to the public.

A report published in advance of the meeting says: "The applicant has failed to evidence to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority that a robust and transparent marketing exercise has taken place demonstrating that the retention of the existing use is no longer economically viable or feasible. In addition, it has not been demonstrated that the current use no longer retains an economic and social value for the community it serves."

The report says the council has received two letters from agents Armitstead Barnett to support the plans.

One of these letters says the empty Bolton-le-Sands premises is "representative of the hospitality sector at present which still appears to be suffering from the effect of lockdown and increases in costs".

The report goes on to say: "The letter goes on to state that whilst the property could be offered to the market as a commercial premises it is felt that this would receive little or no interest given that there are an increasing number of commercial and restaurant type premises being offered for sale within the region which have received very little interest.

"The letter points out that it is worthy of note that some of these premises are in stronger and more popular locations.

"The sentiment of this letter may be correct, but without the marketing exercise the local planning authority has no certainty of this."

Mr Waddington said ahead of the meeting: "Since the previous planning meeting and then following a recommended pre-application meeting with council officers in August, a change of use to residential application was approved by council planning in October.

"We are looking forward to the application getting a fair hearing amongst committee members at the upcoming meeting on Monday.

"It's a brownfield site, prime for redevelopment since the business relocated to Morecambe earlier this year."

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