A fresh bid by pizza chain Prezzo to open a new restaurant in Fleet town centre is again dividing opinion.
The expanding firm is seeking a change of use to enable it to sell food and drink from the former retail premises of Babyland and Vickery estate agents at 204 and 206 Fleet Road.
It recently withdrew an application before it could be determined by Hart District Council and has submitted a new one, proposing minor changes.
Some local residents have welcomed the prospect that the empty units will be filled but others have said the town does not need another pizza restaurant.
Among those objecting to the new application is Lisa Yallop from Church Crookham.
“I strongly disagree with allowing yet another Italian/pizza restaurant in Fleet,” she said. “We already have El Castello, Pizza Express, Ask, La Casa, Al Fresco and the Sports Bar as well as two pizza takeouts.
“We need to expand the options on the main area of Fleet Road and need to look to encourage restaurants of another ‘flavour’, for example Spanish/tapas, tex/mex, steak/burger, etc.”
Mrs Yallop said the situation will get to the point where people will eat out of the town just for some variety.
“I appreciate that it is currently an empty unit but just filling it with the same old option is not going to bring people to eat in Fleet and also it impacts the trade of the already very popular independent restaurants,” she added.
Among those backing the Prezzo plan is Sharon White of Glen Road.
“It is quality food and surely it is better to have shops filled than empty,” she said.
“Does it matter that it is another so-called pizza eating place? They do other food as well, and let’s face it we have far more Indian restaurants than we need.
“A quality restaurant for a hopefully quality town in the future.”
Hart district councillor Steve Forster said it was good to see the site being used.
“For neighbours it is important that rubbish is sensibly stored and frequently emptied, that noise is kept to a minimum, and cooking odours are managed to ensure this does not inconvenience other residents,” he added.
Salisbury-based town planning and development consultant Allen Planning is acting as the agent for Prezzo. It said the use of the units as a Prezzo restaurant is likely to result in increased footfall within the local area and would also generate a ‘destination location’ within this part of the town.
Managing director Tony Allen said there were only ‘very minor changes’ between the first and second applications but Hart would not let him amend the original application and made him apply again.
Hart said there were some ‘minor internal changes’ and a proposed single storey rear extension not in the previous application. The council will decide on the plans by June 19.