Back by popular demand is the application by dedicated local music promoters SRL to establish a Jazz Blues cafe on Bridgwater’s High Street. Despite being rejected narrowly by the Sedgemoor planning committee at it’s pre-christmas meeting amidst much controversy the SRL team are committed to having another go at making their case to boost the High Street economy.
The plan, which is supported by Westover councillors, is for change of use of the ground floor of 18 High Street from use class A1/A2 to use classes A3-A5 (a Jazz, Blues and Soul Themed Venue, also trading as a brasserie restaurant and coffee shop (day time) and licensed bar with music (evenings).
The application can be viewed and commented on on-line here;–
Supporting the application, Westover ward councillor Brian Smedley said “For us the town centre is not only the focal point to our ward it’s also the defining heart of Bridgwater and as such it needs to thrive and develop.
We need to be supporting initiatives such as the one proposed here for the High street and to encourage enterprise and to remove the scourge of vacant shops, we need to have a flexible policy towards the town centre.
Planning policies must be flexible enough to encourage the limited number of developers gingerly coming forward and therefore if others see this happening, if others appreciate the flexibility and acknowledge that this council is prepared to back them then maybe we can inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs to take up these vacant shops and revitalise our town centre.
I believe the policy can be interpreted flexibly and the additional supporting evidence provided here by the applicants could support that exception.. Broadly the proposal actually does meet the objectives of the policy and so in fact it’s up to you people here today to weigh up the issues – so I urge planners to grasp the nettle , approve this and show people who are prepared to invest in our town centre that we’re prepared to support them.”
County Councillor for Bridgwater South, Leigh Redman added “I noted the request previously when submitted and assumed that an exciting application like this would pass through development, I was a little surprised by the deferral and the subsequent refusal, as it is rightly heading back I wanted to speak as the County Councillor for the division it would sit in and add my comments for consideration, I was pleased to see the application for change of use of the former bookshop in Bridgwater High Street to a Jazz cafe and would support this, as has been said previously it would be helpful if SDC development committee were minded to grant an exception to planning policy. The proposal can clearly be seen to support the vitality and viability of the area, to have an empty building is not to anyone’s benefit. I think the work done by the applicant & his agent is very helpful and clearly supports an exemption, The proposal is to create a café bar venue, with an emphasis on food and drink, with entertainment, different from the coffee house culture, but providing a new style establishment and should be welcomed into the area. I hope that after consultation they are able to support this venture”