CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to continue fighting plans for a new restaurant in Dorking town centre, after the proposals moved a step closer.
Neighbours and shoppers are annoyed that Mole Valley District Council's licensing sub-committee has approved a premises licence for a branch of the Cote brasserie chain in St Martin's Walk.
The licence was granted, subject to conditions, despite the fierce objections of neighbours, who argued the late night opening would disrupt those living in the flats above the proposed development.
They also argued that the plans to turn what was previously furniture shop Maison into a restaurant was against the council's own Town Centre Plan to promote the growth of retail opportunities in the area.
Speaking after the decision was made on Monday afternoon, Derrick Benoliel, who lives in a flat opposite Cote's proposed location, said: "This is merely the first stage in what is going to be a long and drawn out public battle.
"I'm disappointed because I felt we had a good case and our objections are justified. It's not the place for that restaurant."
During the hearing, Mr Benoliel said the noise coming from the restaurant at night would make life "unbearable" for those living near it.
A number of residents objected, citing concerns over noise and loss of retail space as reasons to refuse the licence.
In a statement read to the committee, Nicola Parker, who lives near St Martin's Walk, said: "I'm very worried that if this licence is granted we'll be subjected to a massive increase in noise with no break."
Others criticised the restaurant chain's plans to convert a large retail space in the middle of town, despite there being an empty restaurant building at the east end of the High Street.
Roger Jones, who spoke against the plans at the committee, said: "The people don't want any more restaurants and the council's planning policy made it as clear as possible that you can't have a licensed premises in this area."
He added that despite the applicant's claims that it would minimise noise pollution in the area, he had found a "plethora" of complaints online claiming Cote's had failed to deal with similar problems in the past.
Speaking on behalf of the applicants, Roy Light, of St John's Chambers, said the new restaurant would be a positive for Dorking by adding another big name to the High Street alongside Marks & Spencer.
In granting the application, Councillor Charles Yarwood – chairman of the sub-committee – said members had considered the effect it would have on residents but decided the licence should be granted in accordance with the council's licensing guidelines.
Residents have now vowed to appeal the decision.