A RESTAURANT bar in the council’s flagship town centre regeneration scheme will have permission to stay open until 2am – despite claims it is a step ‘backwards’.

Proposals from Warrington Borough Council (WBC) and Muse Developments to permit use for ‘drinking establishments’ in the leisure block of the £142.5 million Time Square development were approved by the development management committee on Wednesday.

Cineworld and The Botanist are so far confirmed to occupy space as talks continue with other operators – with the decision by councillors giving The Botanist, in unit one, permission to serve alcohol and stay open until 2am.

The change of use relates to the ground floor units and mezzanine space to include drinking establishments (A4 use), in addition to previously approved use for retail and financial and professional services, as well as restaurants and cafes.

The council believes the addition of a licensed drinking premises would ‘add to the capacity’ of the town centre to host nights out.

Unit one now has permission to be open to customers between 8am and 2am the following day.

The remainder of the leisure block building will be allowed to open to customers between 8am and 1am the following day.

Police had no objection to a 2am closing time in unit one and 1am closing time in the remainder of the units subject to conditions, the installation of CCTV and membership of the Pub Watch scheme.

Warrington Guardian:

How Time Square could look

The building is in a ‘cumulative impact area’ for licensing – which is designated to help prevent late night alcohol-related disorder – and imposes control over the hours and days of use of premises, such as restaurants and bars.

However, Cllr Judith Wheeler (LD – Appleton) raised concerns over the plans.

She said: “The whole Time Square development was based on the premise of being family friendly, eating, drinking and safe – we wanted to get away from the whole catastrophe that is lower Bridge Street.

“I am not saying this would happen but we are moving away already, before any of the units are occupied, to something different.”

Resident Richard Buttrey, who objected to the application, claimed passing the plans would be a step ‘backwards’.

He added: “The reason for change of use is said to be that the addition of licensed drinking premises would add to the capacity of the town centre to host nights out.

“This should surely sound warning bells for the council.

“The past problems with drinking establishments in the town centre are well known and don’t need relating here.”

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David Boyer, the council’s operational director of transport and environment, confirmed the police had ‘a lot of interface’ with The Botanist about the plans during Wednesday’s meeting at the Town Hall.

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Town Hall

And Lee Shaw, from Avison Young, acting on behalf of applicants WBC and Muse Developments, urged members to pass the proposals.

He told committee members Time Square, which is due to open next year, is about creating a new destination for a night out, improving the night-time economy and providing an alternative offer.

“The application is for a change of use for all the ground floor retail and leisure units to allow the class A4 use alongside the uses that are already permitted,” he said.

“The reason why this application has been submitted is because to get the type of operators that are currently in negotiations, including one that has been announced, The Botanist, those operators require A4 consent as part of their leases.”

Mr Shaw emphasised the extra hour is to ‘suit tenants’ requirements’ and said The Botanist specifically asked to extend the time to 2am in unit one.

He added: “They believe that is an appropriate trading time in that location and that is suitable for them.

“If that doesn’t work out then they would look at revising their hours but they want to try 2 o’clock at the moment.”

Councillors were also reminded 2am is the closing time of the unit so customers would leave the premises by that time, with serving to stop around 1am.

Cllr Bob Barr (LD – Lymm North and Thelwall), leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats, said attracting companies with the reputation of The Botanist is ‘really important’.

The application was approved subject to conditions.