A NEW 'upmarket’ pizzeria has been given the green light by city planners.

Adam Giagnotti, owner of The Olive Branch in St Swithin’s Street, put forward the plans to convert former sandwich bar Petifrance - also in St Swithin’s Street - into a pizzeria, and the scheme was unanimously backed when it went before Worcester City Council’s planning committee.

The planning officers praised the scheme for bringing the grade two listed building into use, with councillors hearing the pizzeria would make use of the ground floor and basement, with the first floor used for storage. The conditions included that the pizzeria could only be open 9am to 10pm on weekdays and 9am to 11.30pm on a weekend.

During the committee members debate Councillor Chris Mitchell, chairman of the committee, shared his support for the scheme, adding “we are going to need to do everything we can, post Covid-19, to support local businesses and if that’s leisure economy so-be-it”.

Councillor Andy Roberts said: “I’m really pleased about the application.

“For one thing I’m heartened by the fact somebody wants to invest in the city centre, particularly when you look round the country and so many are suffering. This sadly looks like a building that’s in its demise - all power to those that want to do it.”

Councillor Jenny Barnes said: “If the quality of the food is as good as its other premises, then that’s good news for the city.”

Councillor Roger Berry said: “I welcome the scheme overall.

“The other point I wanted to make is the emerging South Worcestershire Development Plan and the need for us to be a little more flexible in the city centre, and accept we are going to have a very new form of city centre.”

But the Gorse Hill councillor said he “suspected” due to the current Coronavirus crisis, “this will not go ahead, unless there is some very significant changes on social distancing.”

Councillor Lynn Denham raised whether the licensing conditions would be based on the business as a whole, or as two separate outlets. The chairman explained that ultimately this would be a matter for the licensing committee, if the applicant applied for later opening hours.

A vote was held and all 11 committee members voted in favour during the virtual meeting held on Thursday.

Previously Mr Giagnotti, who bought the former sandwich shop in December last year, told us he wanted to celebrate his family’s Italian roots with the pizzeria.

“Everything is going to be Italian here, because the family is Italian, we want to be unique here,” he said.