An application to extend the well-known Amar restaurant on Convent Place into the old Levis jeans store next door has been filed with the Town Planner.
The application is seeking to change the use of the adjacent property from a shop, to alter the façade including replacement of windows with double glazed aluminium framed windows, to change the doors and awning to match the existing ones.
The aim of the alterations is to “enhance the special character of the premises in the context of the building and neighbouring properties,” states the design statement filed with the application.
In addition, the extended restaurant will have a new front entrance on the Convent Place side. This will restore the original main entrance to the property, which is currently concealed beneath a large advertising display board.
The current entrance door will be temporarily locked and only accessible as a fire escape. In addition, the existing doors on the Main Street side will also be used for fire escapes.
A new window will be created for takeaways.
A design statement filed by the applicant, Ester Abuhassera and Walkway Holdings Ltd, also states that Amar’s is “the only kosher establishment in Gibraltar which has the benefit of a shop front with outdoor seating.”
“There is much demand for additional space and for expansion of the business to cater for the growing needs of the local Jewish and wider community.”
Taking over the adjacent space will also mean that there will be room for a larger kitchen and storage area. The application also provides for two toilets including an accessibility friendly toilet.
As the restaurant is located within the Old Town the design statement addresses different part of the Development Plan 2009 that pertains to the area.
Regarding one policy on the change of use in shopping areas the applicant feels that it is not going against this as they believe the proposal is on a small scale and it is also meeting a local demand.
The policy does note that there may be some limited demand for takeaways and other small scale activity businesses within the Old Town.
On the changes of use to retail elsewhere in the Old Town the application will be only favourably considered where the proposal is clearly small in nature and it can be demonstrated that it is intended to satisfy a local demand or is related to tourism.
The applicant believes that the business will provide and a service to the local Jewish residents and wider community. In addition, it will employ additional staff, creating new local jobs.
“The restaurant already attracts customers looking for a vegan or vegetarian menu due to the fact that its dishes are guaranteed to be meat free. The expanded premises will enable it to cater for many more such customers, whose numbers are increasing,” said the design statement.
“The new use as a larger single restaurant/cafe unit will make better use of the existing small and vacant units while also enhancing footfall to local businesses and shops along Main Street and Convent Place,” it adds.
Regarding the policy for the amalgamation of premises to form one retail unit the applicant believes that the proposed plans will allow for the enhancement of the building both architecturally and aesthetically.
“The current frontage is split between a tired looking restaurant/café with outdoor seating and a derelict and neglected vacant shop with broken glass windows, multiple signs and general clutter. The internal condition of the existing vacant shop is in a very poor state and is in desperate need of renovation. The amalgamation of both units will allow for a single use with a consistent frontage which will enhance the architectural integrity of the building and street scene,” the design statement states.
On the table and chairs located outside the restaurant, the applicant states that they plan to retain the number of chairs and tables.