A PLANNING application has been lodged to transform the former Sadler’s fishmongers into a licensed tea rooms and bistro – but Penarth councillors have raised concerns about the “over preponderance” of restaurants and cafes in the town centre.

Councillors warned that there were already several well-established restaurants in the area and that this should be taken into consideration when deciding whether to grant planning permission.

The application is for change of use from ‘A1 fishmongers and butchers’ to ‘A3 licensed tea rooms and bistro’ for the Royal Buildings shop on Victoria Road.

A separate planning application has also been lodged to replace the steel-roll shutters at the front of the building with aluminium framed folding doors.

During the town council planning committee meeting, held on Wednesday (April 30), councillor Clive Williams warned that the competition to well-established restaurants in the area, including the nearby Foxy’s, should be considered.

Councillor Neil Thomas, who was chairing the committee meeting, said that competition was not a planning matter, “unless there is an over preponderance of businesses in a certain area, and then it becomes a matter of judgement of the nature of fair competition”.

Cllr Anthony Ernest, who represents the Plymouth ward, said that he took a similar view to Cllr Williams and the area already had Sugo’s, Foxy’s and Timothy’s before it closed.

He added that he was against the application as there was an “excessive amount of restaurants or cafes” and that “there was no longer a mix of shops in the general area”.

Councillor Michael Cuddy, who represents the St Augustine’s ward, said that the “balance of trade” should be examined by the Vale Council and this was agreed by the committee.

Councillor Neil Thomas said that the application would fit in with some of the thinking coming from the Penarth Town Plan and that councillors should take this into consideration.

Councillor Philip Rapier, who represents the St Augustine’s ward, said that “excessive competition was a decision for the market” and that councillors must accept the market as it is.

He added there needed to be a balance of trade on the high street and that it seemed like “what customers want is a number of cafes”.

“If they are not there people will not come and spend,” he said.

The planning committee also discussed a separate application for the replacement of the steel shutters at the front of the shop with folding aluminium framed doors.

Councillor Anthony Ernest noted that all of the shop fronts of the Royal Buildings had been built by Williams Speed and that “it’s still a prestigious and very up-market area”.

Councillor Tracey Alexander, who represents the Cornerswell ward, added that the proposals seemed quite contemporary but that “it would be nice if they could complement the original design”.

She added that she was concerned about how the changes would affect the Victorian and Edwardian architecture in the area.

In summing up Cllr Neil Thomas added that it was a shame that Sadler’s had closed but that councillors must welcome new trade.

“It’s sad that well known businesses have gone but that’s a sign of the times.

“If they were thriving businesses they would be surviving.”

It was agreed by the planning committee that the Vale Council should consider the “balance of trade” in the area and, in regard to the shop front change, the Vale Council should take into consideration shop front directives.