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Squatters hold up Brighton restaurant plans
A multi-national restaurant chain has shelved proposals for a new eatery – because squatters have taken over the planned site.
TGI Friday’s was set to have its licence decided on Friday (January 4) by Brighton and Hove City Council.
But the Texas-based company had to withdraw at the last minute as it could not access the Ship Street site.
The fire service asked developers for more details on safety procedures, but the company could not heed their calls because squatters are living in the Old Post Office site.
However, Walsingham Planning’s Mark Thackeray, who is acting on behalf of TGI Friday’s, said that they still hoped to open the new restaurant later in the year.
He said: “There were a few matters which needed clearing up but as I understand it we can’t access the building at the moment because of squatters.
“We’re still working on it and TGI Friday’s is still very keen to open in Brighton.”
Blueprints submitted to the council show that the 250-seat restaurant would create 90 full-time and 60 part-time jobs.
The dining room would take up much of the ground floor of the Grade II listed property with a separate bar area also featuring.
Last year when the plans were first put in, council bosses asked the company to provide more details on how it would protect the architectural and historical character of the building.
They also flagged up concerns around the intention to use the building for housing and asked the company to consider the upper floors for flats.
Built in 1925, the building was a post office until 2007. Since then it has been vacant apart from squatters.
New laws brought in last year made it illegal to squat in residential properties. However, commercial buildings are still within the law.
A Sussex Police spokesman said that they were powerless to evict the squatters but would help “keep the peace” if the owners decided to take action.
Alex Casper has not squatted in the building but knows people who have.
He said: “I’m sure they will complain about how we destroy buildings but what destroys buildings is the apathy and inconsiderate nature of developers who leave properties empty for years.”
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