Jamie Oliver rings out a new Italian job for The Bell, St Albans

CELEBRITY chef Jamie Oliver is on track to open an Italian restaurant in St Albans next year – the first Jamie’s Italian eaterie in Herts.

Last week St Albans council granted a premises licence for the former Bell Public House in The Maltings.

Although there were objections to the restaurant, the licence was granted but further permits are needed before work can begin. Council planning staff are still considering applications for additional work on the building at 22 Chequer Street.

A spokesman for Jamie Oliver confirmed that it was proposed to transform the former Bell Public House into Jamie’s Italian which would, “be the first JI in the collection to open in Herts.” He said it would “hopefully” open late next year.

Cllr Aislinn Lee, chair of council’s licensing sub-committee, said that an application for a premises licence would be granted under delegated authority by council officers.

The application sought a licence for the sale and supply of alcohol on and off the premises, showing films and providing late night refreshment. Small screens around the restaurant would show Jamie Oliver DVDs, old Italian films and footage from cameras in the kitchen.

Cllr Lee explained that the application was originally referred to councillors to consider last Friday (November 12) because there had been three objections. But one objector withdrew their opposition to the proposed restaurant and councillors rejected the other two.

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She said: “After very serious consideration we decided these objectors were too far away [from Jamie’s Italian] to have any adverse impact on their quality of life, which meant there was no outstanding objection to the application and in that case it will be granted by delegated authority.”

Council officers are considering an application to demolish the former pub’s existing conservatory and replace it with a single storey extension to create a new dining area. The application also proposes the creation of a ramp to provide disabled access. Entry to the restaurant would be via the existing entrance on Chequer Street, and a new ramp from the Maltings level.

The application said that while The Bell was a locally listed building with an 18th-Century chimney, the conservatory was “of no historical or architectural significance” and “largely obscures views of the 19th-Century rear wing.

“There is significant potential to enhance the character and appearance of the [St Albans] conservation area.”

Jamie Oliver, who enthuses about his passion for Italian food on his website, has 15 Italian restaurants including in Glasgow, Cardiff and Oxford, and is opening two more in Bristol and Nottingham early next year.