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Monday, April 15, 2024

Shisha lounge plans for Railway Street in Chatham town centre rejected

Plans for a new town centre shisha bar have been quashed after claims it would have “attracted crime” and been “detrimental” to a high street.

An application was submitted to Medway Council for the hookah lounge in a backyard behind Railway Street, Chatham in January.

A view of the rejected shisha bar site location from Waterfront Way. Picture: Medway Council planning portalA view of the rejected shisha bar site location from Waterfront Way. Picture: Medway Council planning portal
A view of the rejected shisha bar site location from Waterfront Way. Picture: Medway Council planning portal

A shisha lounge allows customers to sit and smoke shisha – pipes for burning tobacco in which smoke passes through a container of water before being inhaled.

It was hoped the smoking parlour would trade behind retailers, Kent Barbers and Vape Centre UK, opposite The Prince of Wales pub.

Put forward by Macintosh Davies Limited, the plans said the site would provide for commercial use via a connected but underused courtyard at the rear of both sites.

The area would be overhauled and converted into an accessible, outside shisha lounge accessed off Waterfront Way, serving customers drinks and cold food such as sandwiches.

However, the proposal has now been rejected just two months after it was submitted.

Where the Shisha bar was planned. Photo: Medway Council planning portalWhere the Shisha bar was planned. Photo: Medway Council planning portal
Where the Shisha bar was planned. Photo: Medway Council planning portal
A disused courtyard space would have been converted into a shisha bar in Chatham. Photo: Medway Council planning portalA disused courtyard space would have been converted into a shisha bar in Chatham. Photo: Medway Council planning portal
A disused courtyard space would have been converted into a shisha bar in Chatham. Photo: Medway Council planning portal

Planning officers from the local authority said: “The proposed use is considered to be in an inappropriate location.

“The use is therefore considered to be out of character for the area and detrimental to the functionality of the High Street”.

Further information noted the lounge’s lack of open frontages, due to access proposed from Waterfront Way, would have created “an awkward relationship” with neighbouring shops.

The proposed layout in the courtyard was also deemed inadequate for a business, while other concerns were raised regarding the lack of parking provision.

It was also acknowledged the residential properties above the site could have also been impacted by the levels of smoke caused by the lounge.

Shisha dates back more than 500 years. Picture: Stock imageShisha dates back more than 500 years. Picture: Stock image
Shisha dates back more than 500 years. Picture: Stock image
The proposed shisha bar would have sat behind the barber shop and vape centre in Chatham High Street. Photo: Medway Council planning portalThe proposed shisha bar would have sat behind the barber shop and vape centre in Chatham High Street. Photo: Medway Council planning portal
The proposed shisha bar would have sat behind the barber shop and vape centre in Chatham High Street. Photo: Medway Council planning portal

Police had already warned plans for the bar could have led to unruly behaviour if given the green light.

A statement by the force read: “Recessed areas at ground floor level are a significant concern, [as] they are likely to attract crime, anti-social behaviour and nuisance, and can provide a secluded space which attracts criminality.

“For commercial and retail units [they] can provide an unofficial smoking area that can lead to nuisance and conflict, and shelter for loitering which can increase the fear of crime.

“We recommend CCTV to cover entrances, exits, bar and till areas. CCTV should also be in all public areas, including the courtyard to ensure there are no blind spots”.

To see more planning applications and other public notices for your area, click here.

Had the application been approved, the lounge would have opened from Monday to Friday between the hours of 5pm and 11pm, plus on Saturdays from 5pm to 1am.

Neil Davies, of Macintosh Davies Limited, said he was “disappointed” planning permission was refused.

He says he is not yet sure whether the applicant and himself will appeal the decision.

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