Welwyn Garden City’s former Post Office set to become bar and restaurant
Welwyn Hatfield Council has given the go-ahead to a bar and restaurant at the old Post Office site on Howardsgate.
The Development Management Committee voted 11 to two yesterday to approve Oakman Inns’ planning request to change the use of the long-vacant site.
The new venue will be open 8am until late and, the company claims, will provide 20 full-time and 20 part-time jobs.
Case officer David Elmore explained that the planning committee recommended the change as a “pragmatic decision” despite official council policy around the balance of retail and non-retail sites, taking into consideration the fact that the site has sat empty and boarded up since October 2016.
All public comments on the proposal were in support.
Labour councillor Tara-Mary Lyons, opening the questions and comments, just said: “I want to go there!”
Councillor Peter Hebden, for the Conservatives, had a jibe for another pub company that has been looking to open in Welwyn Garden City for a long time.
“I think it’s an excellent application, it’s good for Welwyn Garden City … all I can say is, Wetherspoons: look, listen, and learn.”
Oakman Inns’ property director Malcolm Schooling explained that the company has numerous venues around Hertfordshire and beyond, such as the popular Beech Houses in St Albans and Amersham.
“It’s a genuine aim that we develop the property in a way that’s both sensitive and responsive to its context,” he said.
Liberal Democrat councillor Jaida Caliskan and Conservative Helen Bromley voted against the motion.
Conservative councillor Sunny Thusu went one step further to suggest that, in the light of the changing face of the high street, the council review its policy on the balance of retail and non-retail.