Hopes to launch new Turkish restaurant and shisha bar Aspendos before summer in Sturry near Canterbury

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Official plans have been submitted to transform a village’s last-remaining pub into a Turkish restaurant and shisha bar.

Businessman Necati Gunes, who runs chain Aspendos, bought the Middle of the Road in Sturry, near Canterbury, after it had been on the market for £565,000.

The Middle of the Road in Sturry

The restaurateur hopes to convert the boozer, which sold its last pint on Halloween last year, into his expanding company’s fifth branch.

Two planning applications have been submitted to the city council, revealing his ambitions for the former pub.

And Mr Gunes hopes – if the bids are approved – to be able to open the eatery before the summer.

He estimates the restaurant, which will serve a range of kebabs, mezzes and seafood dishes, will employ between 20 and 25 people.

“If we get permission to go ahead with what we need to do, it will probably be open before the summer,” he said.

The building was a Papa's fish and chip shop in 2016. Picture: dover-kent.com
The building was a Papa’s fish and chip shop in 2016. Picture: dover-kent.com

“We are waiting for permission so we can replace some joists, because it is quite dangerous.

“The building (would have) collapsed in a couple of years if no one had done anything to it.”

Mr Gunes says the takeaway will launch first and take about four weeks to open after approval is received.

He has taken over the 400-year-old property, originally called the Welsh Harp, from landlord Adam Papa, who ran the tavern for seven years.

The move comes as the former Swan Inn in Sturry High Street continues to sit empty in the centre of the village, having called last orders for the final time in 2011.

The Welsh Harp in Sturry in 1972. Picture: Rory Kehe
The Welsh Harp in Sturry in 1972. Picture: Rory Kehe

Local beer-lovers currently have to venture up to the Golden Lion in Broad Oak or the George & Dragon in Fordwich for a drink.

One of the planning applications is for change of use of a single-storey extension from a barber shop to a kitchen and hot food takeaway.

It states: “Our applicant is looking to convert the building into a bar and restaurant with takeaway facility in the modern extension.

“Aspendos are successfully operating a number of bars and restaurants in the south east in Folkestone, Hythe, Dover, Deal, Ashford and Dymchurch.

“The applicant is looking to renovate and undertake sympathetic changes to the Middle of the Road to enable to deliver a high quality dining experience.”

“As direct neighbours to this restaurant, we strongly object to the plans…’”

Meanwhile, the other application is for listed building consent for outside and inside alteration, including new doors, external painting and the removal of walls.

Neighbour Christopher Green has submitted objections to both applications – the only resident so far to do so.

“Outside seating will take away all the car park,” he writes. “Where are customers going to park?

“The noise level will be too high as it is a residential area.

“The entrance to the takeaway is in Water Lane, which is a very busy double yellow line road with no pavement. If there is a queue, customers will be on the road.

The former Ziggy’s Barber Shop next to the The Middle of the Road pub. Picture: Barry Goodwin
The former Ziggy’s Barber Shop next to the The Middle of the Road pub. Picture: Barry Goodwin

“Also, we are very concerned about the outside lighting as it is a Grade II-listed property, and we do not wish to live next to ‘Wembley stadium’.

“As direct neighbours to this restaurant, we strongly object to the plans.”

The Middle of the Road dates back to the 17th century. It is thought to have become the Welsh Harp in 1866 – a name it kept until 2014.

The historic building, perched on the triangular junction between the A28, Mill Road and Water Lane, was Grade II-listed in 1980.

Later it became Papa’s fish and chip shop before being renamed Coffee and Alehouse.

It simply became known as The Pub, before being renamed the Middle of the Road in 2017, with the dining room converted into a barber shop.

View the applications on the city council’s planning portal by searching reference CA/21/02871 and CA/21/02872.

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