Radio bar-bar - the latest idea for a new drinks venue in Preston city centre
Another trendy new bar could be coming to Preston city centre . . . only this one will have a radio station on top.
Plans to convert the former BetSid bookmakers in Friargate, next door to Wetherspoons' Grey Friar pub, into a bar/restaurant and radio hub have gone before the city council.
A local company called Luthers Pads Ltd wants to create a venue - called Luthers Bar - which will have drinking and eating on the ground floor, a bar lounge with two karaoke studios at first floor level, all topped off with four small radio broadcasting studios above that.
One of the men behind the project is presenter Leroy Allen who is chief executive of Preston s community radio station Beat 103.2 which broadcasts from a studio in the Guild Hall shopping arcade.
It is not clear if the Friargate plans include a new home for Beat 103.2, although Mr Allen is also a director of Preston DAB, a company which was set up in February as a partnership with two others to apply for a licence to bring small scale DAB digital radio to the city.
The detached three-story building has been empty since 2019 when businessman Simon Rigby sold his BetSid chain of betting shops. Owners Preston Council say they have been trying to re-let the premises, but without success.
"In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic no interested party with a new use proposal has come forward until now," says a planning statement on behalf of Luthers Pads.
"The application intends a new use of the ground floor of the property as a bar with eating capacity at tables served by a small kitchen area in the middle of the ground floor area, and use of the first floor as a bar lounge with two karaoke studios.
"The second floor would be used as a radio hub creating 4 small radio broadcasting studios to the overall benefit of the wider Preston area with broadcasting facilitated from a number of individual sound booths.
"Though there are a large number of bars and traditional public houses along Friargate, the addition of a further one at the application premises ought not to be regarded as a negative contribution to the economy of Friargate, far from it, especially where the property is currently generating no income towards the local economy.
"The effects of the COVID 19 pandemic have meant a loss of a significant number of prominent names in the ‘high street’ resulting in many empty premises and the situation is no different in Preston.
"The uptake upon any new shop leases is going to be very slow. In the case of the application property, the applicant is to be applauded for his commitment in bringing forward investment in a property at such a difficult time."
The company has applied for opening hours of 9am to midnight Monday to Friday, 9am to 1am on Saturday and 11am to 11pm on Sundays.