Fine dining restaurant L’Ortolan in Shinfield has submitted plans to turn the building back into a house.

However, owners of the business have told Thames Tap the measure is a precaution due to the difficult economy and that there are currently no plans to close or move it.

The application submitted to Wokingham Borough Council for the two-storey Grade II-listed former vicarage in Church Road is purely for change of use and involves no alterations.

The building was granted permission to convert back to residential use in 2000 but that permission has elapsed.

While the owners did not wish to speak publicly, a heritage and planning statement within the application by Heritage Fusion states: “Due to the substantial setting change with the growth of Shinfield, taking it away its rural setting and the economic challenges of running a restaurant business, a Change of Use back to residential is now being considered.”

The building had become a private house in 1939 and a Michelin Star restaurant following its sale to chef Richard Milton Sandford in 1978.  It was once owned by chefs Nico Ladeni and John Burton Race and other renowned chefs have run the kitchen since then.

The new planning application has been made by current owner Peter Newman.

The application’s heritage and planning statement continues: “The setting for the property has substantially changed due to the expansion of Shinfield and has lessened its suitability as a rural high end restaurant since it is now overlooked by high density housing.

“A reduction in the standard of the restaurant is not of net benefit to the property and an increase in the number of covers may be harmful if not done with care since the pressure on the building may increase.

“The conversion into a single residential dwelling is more likely to result in high quality investment into the historic fabric and therefore is a logical proposal for consideration.”

The planning application, which can be seen here, follows the marketing of another fine-dining restaurant on the fringe of Reading, the French Horn in Sonning, reported exclusively in Thames Tap.

Image: L’Ortolan Restaurant by Des Blenkinsopp, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons.

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