Owner of Pedro's slams council for forcing him to stop work on new diner
PUBLISHED: 15:29 11 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:19 11 July 2019
A multi-millionaire businessman has criticised the city council for 'putting every obstacle in the way' of him giving people a new restaurant in Chapelfield Gardens.
Andre Serruys, who closed Pedro's in April, claimed building work on his new burger bar is half finished after being halted by Norwich City Council. The council says it did so due to breaches of the licence attached to the ongoing work.
Mr Serruys also criticised the council for refusing to let him buy the Pedro's building and the park itself. He also claimed it refused his offer to pay to take over the running of public toilets in Chapelfield Gardens, which are permanently closed.
But he's most irate about red tape which he claims has ground to a halt his £100,000 transformation of the Chapelfield building into 'Harry's' - offering dry-aged steak burgers along with a cocktail bar and ice-creams and which will see about 30 staff recruited.
He said the council, which owns the land and building, has stopped him from gaining vehicle access to the building because of health and safety implications. This has meant new furniture for the restaurant can't be delivered and a skip can't be brought on to the premises to remove waste such as old plaster and rubble, which is now collecting.
"I'm at a complete impasse," he added. "We can't finish the work to create a new burger bar for the people of Norwich to enjoy. Here I am, someone willing to spend money on a council-owned building, to do something good for the city, and it seems the council is putting every obstacle in my way.
"I own the lease which I could have sold, but I want to open a new business in this building because Chapelfield Gardens is a great location, there's lots of footfall, but the council is stopping me and seems to be happy to watch it stand empty. We need to get on and be open for the summer months."
A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said it was not looking to sell the building. She added: "Regrettably, the licence for vehicle access was recently terminated due to continued breaches attached to that licence. We did not take that decision lightly and always do the very best we can to support the needs of all city businesses while also balancing them with the needs of others including visitors and residents."
Mr Serruys also spoke for the first time publicly about his decision to close Pedro's. He said: "It needed to change and we had to do it quickly so we had to make people redundant, but they've all been paid. I think most have found new jobs now. I was overwhelmed by the public's response when it closed, it made me feel very proud but what we are doing now is to create a new restaurant, a new Pedro's for the people of the city."