Plans for a £250,000 conversion of a former Hartlepool nightclub have won the backing of councillors.
They approved proposals to change the former Pulse nightclub in Church Street into a gin bar, gallery and five apartments.
But the applicant says he will not proceed with the development until its closing time is decided by town licensing chiefs.
Terry Bates had asked for the bar to be able to stay open until 3am, but the planning councillors recommended 2am as part of the permission.
It still needs to be decided separately by the council’s Licensing Committee.
Mr Bates said: “I’m happy they have supported it but this will never happen unless we get the licence till 2 o’clock.
“Nothing will be changed down there.”
Planning officers had urged the closing time to be no later than 11.30pm in line with council policy for the area to protect people who live nearby.
But Mr Bates said: “Society has changed. People don’t go out drinking now until 10pm or 11pm. We have got to be flexible.”
The proposal is to subdivide the bar on the ground floor into separate units, one for the gin bar and another for a student gallery/coffee shop. Five residential apartments are planned on the upper floors.
Mr Bates told the committee: “This building is going to get £200,000 to £250,000 spent on it.
“We want Church Street to be a flourishing area that will attract businesses that are sustainable.”
Headland and Harbour ward councillor Shane Moore spoke in favour of the development. He said: “I think it would be wise for us not to impose that restriction and allow businesses to operate on a viable basis.”
Coun Ray Martin-Wells said: “I don’t see that this committee is a committee to do anything other than support developing businesses in the town.
“I put forward we approve this with a 2 o’clock restriction. I don’t believe that 3[am] is required.”
The committee unanimously approved the application.