STAFF at a Petersfield youth centre have been seeing Michelin stars as they could be moving to a former restaurant.
Plans to convert the former JSW restaurant in Dragon Street into a new home for The Kings Arms (KA) have been lodged with the South Downs National Park Authority.
Supporters believe the unit is the perfect location for a youth centre because of its proximity to The Petersfield School and town centre.
Having a permanent home would also secure the centre’s future as the lease on its current base is short term and runs out in August.
“We’ve heard so many times in the past that our landlord wants to develop this property for residential uses so we’re always on very short leases and looking over our shoulders,” said KA operations manager Caroline Aeschliman.
“There are very few places in Petersfield that can meet the needs of what we require. We’ve explored about 26 different properties over the past seven years so it’s been a struggle.”
A greenfield site on The Avenue was a frontrunner for a period while sites at Love Lane, TPS and the police station were also considered, along with a refurbishment of The Courtyard building.
There is no opportunity for the charity to invest and develop its facilities, or commit to longer-term programmes, while it is based off Heath Road.
“JSW is one site we think, potentially, could meet our needs,” added Caroline.
“The one thing that’s really good for us is the fact a lot of work has been done inside and it’s open plan.
“We’re really, really hopeful and moving to JSW would give us security and help us go forward.”
JSW was considered one of the finest restaurants in Hampshire as it boasted a Michelin star until last year.
The building has been on the market for 18 months, according to the design, access and heritage statement, with the owners receiving no “acceptable offers” during this time.
The Kings Arms is prepared to buy the property, with funding routes to be discussed during the coming week.
The change of use application, drawn up by Petersfield architect Vincent Edberg, suggests the bedroom facilities could be retained to accommodate youth workers or volunteer interns.
The main restaurant dining space would become the main club room, the kitchen would be retained and the separate side dining room could be converted into staff office space.
The statement also suggests the centre’s typical 2pm to 9pm weekday opening hours would be less anti-social than a restaurant’s, although a nearby resident has already lodged an objection on these grounds.
For more information about the application or to comment, type 05056 after following the search applications link at the website www.southdowns.gov.uk/planning