A FORMER pub and latterly restaurant has been given approval to be converted into five flats.

Goodwill Homes has got the go-ahead for the conversion of El Sabio, previously the Mash Tun pub on Eastgate Street.

The application was controversial with a number of objections with parking issues cited. The development will only have one parking space and nearby residents fear there will be overspill onto local roads such as Water Lane.

The planning officers, who took the decision under delegated powers, deemed that the closure of El Sabio showed the site was unviable as a pub or restaurant.

Marion Allen, of Water Lane, wrote: “One parking space for five flats is not sufficient. Parking permits would be required for between five and ten vehicles and Water Lane is at parking capacity with other Eastgate Street residents parking on the street.”

The City of Winchester Trust said it was neutral on the application, but told the council: “There is no objection in principle to the proposal, but it is clear that there will be parking issues and we would urge the Council to consider imposing a restriction on the issue of residents’ parking permits for the development.”

David Netherwood, of Durngate Terrace, wrote: “It is already a struggle to get a parking space in zone B. With 5 apartments there could be up to an extra 10 cars attempting to find a parking space in either Durngate Terrace or Water Lane where there isn’t enough spaces currently.”

Nicky Painter, of Eastgate Street, said; “Under these circumstances I believe it would be more appropriate to retain the Tapas Bar site as a restaurant, wine bar, cafe or pub. I moved to Winchester a few months ago and live right next to the Tapas Bar. I have noticed that most of the eating places and pubs are very crowded, as is my ‘local’ the Willow Tree. Retaining a facility at the junction of Eastgate Street and Friarsgate would be perfect to serve the new residents in the Silver Hill development and would not bring with it a requirement for additional residents’ parking spaces , pointed out by others who have commented.”

Bali Rai, of Northbrook Avenue, said: “Sadly it seems Winchester’s charm is being eroded by conversion of such properties and replacing with maximise dwelling in order to cash-in in the short term.”

A council planning report said: “The application site has been a restaurant and Public House previously, both these uses failed. The site has been on the market for one year with no offers made for commercial use. There are a number of pubs and restaurants within an easy walking distance of the site and therefore it is not considered that the loss of the restaurant space would be detrimental to the... vitality of the area.”