Former dry bar in Wigan will serve booze when it reopens as a restaurant
The building had been occupied by Sam’s Dry Bar and Eatery, a support hub for people with dependency issues, including ex-forces personnel, which has since closed.
Young people will be offered jobs to take their first steps into the world of work at the new establishment, but a member of the public had raised anti-social behaviour and fire safety concerns.
The restaurant, which can hold up to 50 people, will open from midday to 10pm from Tuesday to Thursday, 9am to 1pm on Fridays and Saturdays and midday to 7pm on Sundays.
Patrons will be allowed to order bottles of beer or wine once the doors open and up until half an hour before close, but only if the drinks are ordered with food.
Josh Bailey, the owner of Bailey’s, told a licensing hearing on Wednesday that the bar and grill would be his first business venture.
He said: “The plan is to get in touch with the local college and employ apprentices and get them into work.”
Staff would receive in-house training alongside support from external organisations, added Mr Bailey.
Andrew Westwell, landlord of the neighbouring New Commercial Inn, also said he fully supported the application, adding that the premises was part of the pub.
But the council had been urged to refuse the licence by resident Michael Moulding, who submitted letters of objection but did not appear at the hearing.
He said: “There are too many licensed premises in a very small concentrated area in the town centre, which includes Heath Road.
“I find it inconceivable that Wigan Council are allowing the possibility of having two licensed bars and pubs next door to each other on a residential street, within a few feet from elderly and other residents.”
Mr Moulding also said the "risk of fire cannot be underestimated" at the wooden building.
But neither Greater Manchester Police or Greater Manchester Fire Rescue Service raised concerns on either matter.
The application itself was also described as "unlawful" by Mr Moulding, given that no planning permission had been granted for a restaurant.
Coun Paul Prescott, chairman of the licensing subcommittee, said licensing and planning were separate processes.
He added: “[Mr Moulding] states that as the building doesn’t have planning permission it’s illegal, this is not correct.
“It is only illegal if you don’t comply with an enforcement notice.”
Coun Prescott said a retrospective planning application to change the building’s existing use was being prepared.