New bar set for Panda site despite rates row

Panda Bar in Redwell Street will continue to operate as a bar or restaurant. Pictures: Archant

Panda Bar in Redwell Street will continue to operate as a bar or restaurant. Pictures: Archant - Credit: Archant

Owners of the former Panda Bar have confirmed that the site will reopen as a bar or restaurant – despite an ongoing battle over business rates.

Panda Bar, in Norwich's Redwell Street, closed earlier this month citing crippling business rates and the owners have since launched an appeal to lower the rates at the venue.

Christie and Co letting agents have been hired by owners the Sheena Ann Turner Will Trust to find new tenants and have revealed a number of enquiries have already been made.

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"The site will stay as a bar or restaurant," said Anthony Jenkins, associate director at Christie and Co.

"I think the owners would like to see it let to another independent leaseholder, and not many chains are looking for sites at the moment anyway."

Christie and Co said that lets similar to Panda Bar tend to take between 12 to 24 weeks to be snapped up.

However, the landlords have already said they are worried about finding a new tenant due to the site's rates being in the region of £56,000.

The Trust said: "With the burden of such high rates the owners are not optimistic of getting a new tenant.

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"An appeal has been launched against the high rates but this appeal will probably take between 18 and 24 months with no guarantee of success.

"Meanwhile the business would have to keep paying the very high rates."

Mr Jenkins could not comment on whether the appeal had progressed.

However he added that there is potential to bring more revenue into the business - as Panda only used two of the three floors of the building.

Mr Jenkins said: "The first floor is about the same size as the ground floor so there is potential there.

"The former leaseholder - who had been there for about ten years - recently refurbished the bar so any costs would be for superficial work. You could open the doors and start trading out of it tomorrow if you wanted to."

He said: "There's also the potential for it to be opened as a breakfast and lunchtime venue as opposed to more evenings, as Panda was."