Rockfish set to land go-ahead for £1million restaurant on Sidmouth seafront Drill Hall site

Restaurant chain Rockfish looks set to land planning permission for its £1million bid to transform Sidmouth’s seafront Drill Hall into an eatery. 

The fate of Mitch Tonks’s vision for the site on The Esplanade will be decided on February 4 – and has been recommended for approval.

The restaurant will operate in the same successful formula as the other Rockfish branches in Dartmouth, Plymouth, Torquay, Exmouth, Plymouth, Weymouth and Exeter.

Investment into the Sidmouth project will be in excess of £1million and see up to 40 jobs created.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) last year unanimously decided to select Rockfish’s bid as their preferred bid for the redevelopment and renewal of the Drill Hall.

The authority’s Development Management Committee will decide on the plans on February 4.

And an officer’s report recommending members give the proposals the green light states: “The Drill Hall is a historic building on Sidmouth seafront which has been vacant for a number of years.

“The proposal seeks to convert the building to a restaurant and introduce a balcony, an outside seating area to the side, a new extension to the rear.

“Following a period of marketing for the building, for which there was no interest in its existing use, a commercial proposal for a fish restaurant is considered to be acceptable on the seafront as it will retain the most important features of the building whilst retaining public access and increasing activity around a water-related enterprise.

“The proposal is considered to reflect policies within the Neighbourhood Plan that support commercial properties in this location that reflect the fishing and coastal history and with retained linkages to the town centre.

“The use would be sympathetic to neighbouring uses and would retain the historic value of the building and bringing the building back into use is a positive for the area and local economy.”

Mr Tonks said of the plans last summer: “The Drill Hall is a unique site that has been empty for a long time, it has the most unique features that we are looking to retain and enhance as part of our scheme so as we can bring the building back to its former glory.

“Sidmouth is a wonderful seaside town that fits our ethos of fresh fish being eaten by the sea and if our application is successful, we are very much looking forward to making Rockfish Sidmouth a leading seafood destination and a community asset.”

The exterior of the building will be designed to look like a working fishing building that is sympathetic with the neighbouring sailing club, Sidmouth Lifeboat and trawler agents.

Sidmouth Town Council have backed the plans.

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