AN OLD Town restaurant owner has moved quickly to reassure the community after concerns were raised about plans to turn the premises into a nightclub.

Last week, it emerged that Mantra in Devizes Road had been successful in securing a change to its licensed hours which would have allowed it to open until 4am on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and bank holidays.

The change also permitted the playing of recorded music during those hours.

News of the decision took councillors by surprise and prompted concerned calls from residents who feared that late-night opening would result in noise and an increase in anti-social behaviour.

The councillors met Mantra’s owner, Hanif Robbani, who assured them that he did not want to do anything that would have a detrimental impact on the lives of those living in the area.

He initially offered to meet members of the public to answer their questions and address concerns but quickly went a step further, deciding to abandon his plans for late-night opening altogether.

"We at Mantra are constantly looking for ways to evolve and improve our dining experience,” said Hanif. “Our team have worked tirelessly to come up with new and interesting ideas which the local community can enjoy.

“As part of this process, we applied for our alcohol licence to be extended to 4am, with the further provision to play amplified music. The ultimate vision was to give our customers an unparalleled dining experience within the heart of Swindon’s Old Town. We considered putting on occasional performances by artists and DJs.

“However, we have always maintained that local residents’ views matter to us.

"We have listened to residents’ views and discovered that a large proportion of them are against our plans.

“We can confirm that we are no longer continuing with our development plans - we will not be opening until 4am.

"We have decided to continue operating as we are, during our usual opening hours; 11pm on weekdays and 12pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

“Any events planned to take place this weekend have been cancelled.

“We hope that local residents will support Mantra in its current form, an Indian restaurant.”

The move was welcomed by Old Town’s councillors, who applauded the team for addressing the community’s concerns.

Nadine Watts (Lab) said she had met Hanif and found him to be “reasonable and willing to listen to the concerns of local residents”.

But she was critical of the system which had allowed the application to move to approval without councillors, residents or local businesses being consulted.

“This is not the fault of the applicant,” added Coun Watts.

“The processes need to be improved and council officers have said they will look into this.”

Parish councillor Nick Burns-Howell (Con) also welcomed the decision and added: “I hope we can all now come together as a community to support this important local business in Old Town.”