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Just the meringues will be whipped at new restaurant

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Developer gets go-ahead after two year battle and drops plans for Madam Whiplash massage parlour in Thatcham

A DEVELOPER'S two-year battle to turn an empty unit in Thatcham town centre into a restaurant has finally come to an end.

Shoppers and traders can rest easy after Paul Oldring, of SPO Properties, said that if his latest application to turn the former Thresher store, on the corner of the Broadway and High Street, into a restaurant failed, he would open a massage parlour and adult accessory shop instead. West Berkshire Council recently approved the plan for a restaurant, shop and two flats, and Mr Oldring said that, if everything went to plan, he hoped to open by Christmas.

He said: “It shouldn't be a massage parlour, but you can never say never.

“Hopefully we don't have to go down that road now.

“I'm hopeful it will be great for the centre of Thatcham.”

Previous applications were turned down by councillors because they said that they wanted more shops rather than cafés, take-aways and restaurants, and to approve the plans would mean the loss of another retail outlet.

Mr Oldring said that he thought his current application was given the green light as he would been opening a shop on the same site, with the restaurant over two floors.

He added that he hadn't decided whether it would be a Greek, Italian or Mexican eatery, but said: “It won't be Chinese or Indian as those are already established in the town.”

He said that the scheme would cost about £1m and pointed out that he could have invested this money into the town two years ago had his planning applications not been rejected.

Work on converting the empty property is expected to start in six to eight weeks' time.

Despite, the district council's reported preference for retail units, Costa Coffee opened in the Kingsland Centre in March.

However, the franchise opened just days after submitting plans, and the café's application has not yet been validated by planners, let alone approved.

Mr Oldring said: “They are braver than me, but if they have to close they are big enough.

“Do [the planners] stop something that is proving to be popular?”

The council said that a decision on Costa's application would appear on its website in due course.

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