PLANS for a new restaurant and bar in Southampton have been rejected.

Councillors refused a proposal to turn  the former Prezzo Italian Restaurant unit in Oxford Street into a bar and restaurant.

The plans put forward by Serkan Celyan were to create a restaurant on the first floor of the building and a bar on the ground floor. Dr Celyan was also seeking approval for the restaurant to open between 4pm and 11.30pm and for the bar to open from 4pm to 2am, both seven days a week.

Speaking at the meeting of the planning and rights of way panel on Tuesday evening, he said to be “passionate” about the scheme.

But according to a council policy, restaurants and bars in Oxford Street are only allowed to remain open until midnight and the plans for the new restaurant and bar have therefore been rejected.

A planning officer at the meeting said: “The idea sounds great. But we have a policy and if you are allowing it once it is very difficult.”

Councillor John Savage said: “Once the planning permission has been given, it has been given. We don’t really know what a future owner would do.”

Following the meeting, Dr Celyan said: “It is a waste of an opportunity. Our idea was just to bring something new to Oxford Street. It is  shame it has been refused but we expected the decision.”

He said he will not be re-submitting the plans in the future.

The scheme had previously been welcomed by Bargate ward councillors who said they were glad to see a new proposal for the site which has been empty since last year, when the Italian restaurant was shut.

But planning officers warned the proposal  would set “a difficult precedent for further trading that could lead to additional premises trading after midnight in an area with evidenced problems of late night disturbance”.