CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new off-licence in Rocester which villagers feared would lead to an increase in antisocial behaviour have been scrapped.
The Market Shop in High Street is now under new ownership and plans have been submitted to East Staffordshire Borough Council to change the use of the building to a cafè, bakery and sandwich shop.
Back in July, West Midlands-based Drink Buster Ltd had been granted a licence to open the shop as an off-licence despite fierce objections from people who feared the effects of an eighth premises selling alcohol in the village.
However, an agreement was reached between Drink Buster Ltd and the owners of the nearby Spar shop and the lease has now been taken on by the latter who is looking to open up a cafè instead.
The cafè will be run by Mr and Mrs Malhi, and Hardip Malhi told the Advertiser what sort of venture they were looking to provide should the plans get the green light.
He said: “We get a lot of customers and walkers coming in to the Spar and asking if we have a bigger selection of sandwiches, or if we have hot drinks or if we know of anywhere to sit and eat.
“The chip shop has been really good and brought new faces in to the village but obviously it is not open all hours and people don’t want to go there every day.
“We want to open a cafè and bakery baking our own pies, pasties, paninis and breakfasts in an environment where people can come in and sit down and eat.
“A lot of councillors objected to the off-licence and we sought their advice and they thought this was a brilliant idea. If all goes to plan we hope to have it open early next year.” When Drink Buster Ltd applied for an alcohol license numerous objections were made about the shop potentially causing a return to past problems of anti-social behaviour due to its location and the fact it would be another shop selling alcohol.
Among the objectors was Uttoxeter Rural county councillor and council leader Philip Atkins and he told the Advertiser he was far more comfortable with the new proposals.
He said: “I welcome the proposed cafè, sandwich and bakery shop as something that is needed in the local area as demonstrated by the way the evening and lunchtime food trade has taken off at the fish and chip shop under new owners.
“This application will complement and extend the offer for people either on their way to work/school or taking a lunchtime stroll from work at the JCB factory or academy.
“This proposal is more in keeping with the new much-improved image of Rocester as a working village than another shop selling alcohol.”