A CHINESE restaurant will open in a former hardware store that closed after three decades.

Moonlit Garden will open in the former CJ’s Hardware store at 125 Bournemouth Road, after BCP Council officers approved plans.

Maggie Lo Catering Supplies Ltd applied to change the use of the building from retail to restaurant, adding a new shop front, a new ventilation system and a new attached timber storage shed behind the premises.

BCP Council planning officers have now approved the scheme for a sit-down restaurant, after plans were first lodged in July 2023.

The restaurant will have 25 covers, a host service, a kitchen and accessible toilet facilities, a design and access statement said as part of the application.

A planning statement submitted to the council said the scheme would help the local economy.

It said: “The proposal complies with adopted local and national development plan policy and will create approximately 10 new jobs in the town centre at a time when the economy is facing significant recessionary pressure.”

A case officer’s report said the proposed changes to the shop front would be ‘modest’, while remaining in keeping with the ‘character and visual appearance of the row of shops and commercial uses’.

It added that the proposals would continue to complement the existing street scene.

The report said: “The change of use should have no adverse impact on highway safety, as retail units can generate more short-term parking, where motorists look to park as near to the shop as possible and can sometimes result in drivers parking in inappropriate locations.

“Whereas, restaurants are likely to generate more long term visits and it is accepted that many of the patrons may be in the area anyway, having already parked their car or some may be local walking to the area and motorists will more than likely look to park in a more appropriate location where long term parking is allowed.”

The restaurant will be located near existing Chinese takeaways Top Wok and China Fusion, and opposite an Indian takeaway, a Greek restaurant and a fish and chip shop.