Support floods in for Woodley bar and bistro plansBy Jon Nurse
January 31, 2013
Support is flooding in for a proposed town centre bar and bistro, raising hopes it could spearhead a night-time economy and reduce anti-social behaviour.
Café chain Loungers has submitted a planning application to open a bistro in Woodley precinct, a move which is hoped could breathe life into the town’s evening trade.
The café would replace The Big Discount Store in Crockhamwell Road and would focus on serving food rather than being another coffee shop.
Comments submitted to Wokingham Borough Council on the proposal are unanimous in their support.
One resident from Quentin Road hopes increasing evening activity in the precinct will help reduce teenage anti-social behaviour in the area.
She said: “I’m very excited about the prospect of having an evening venue in the precinct.
“My husband and I feel there are very limited evening dinner venues for couples and families in the area and we are under-utilising the precinct, leading to it being populated solely by teenagers after 6pm.”
Supporters feel free parking after 6pm make the precinct the perfect place for bars and restaurants.
The new outlet would employ eight full-time and 12 part-time staff, with opening hours spanning from 9am to 11.30pm.
The planning application seeks to change the two ground floor units from retail to café use, redecorate the store’s interior and install a new shopfront.
The café would cater for up to 130 customers and have a recessed partially glazed entrance door with sliding windows either side which could be opened up during warm weather.
Another resident, of Constable Close, added: “I fully support the application for a café, it is needed to diversify the businesses on offer in the Woodley precinct.
“Such business will promote late-night shopping and breathe new life to the area in the evening.”
Loungers has 23 outlets nationwide including Alto Lounge in Caversham,
Town centre manager Jacques Lherbier has been speaking with managers at the café chain for close to a year.
“I’ve always thought they would be an excellent addition,” he said.
“I like their unit in Caversham and I think something similar would do very well in Woodley.”
Loungers managing director Alex Reilley said: “Woodley was brought to our attention by someone who thought the town really needed an informal all-day café/bar and who knows our concept.
“Upon visiting and having some really positive dialogue with the town centre manager we were totally convinced and moved quickly to secure a site.
“We have traded successfully in Caversham for almost four years now and, subject to obtaining planning consent, we’re really looking forward to opening in Woodley.”