A terrace on the Michael Caines restaurant at Exmouth’s new watersports centre can feature a retractable glass canopy after proposals were given the go-ahead.
The celebrity chef addressed East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Planning Committee before members approved the transparent addition to Sideshore this morning (Wednesday, July 22).
It is aimed at boosting the eatery and ensuring the dining area can be used all-year-round.
Other minor changes to the seafront scheme will also see two parking spaces lost, but a pair of electric car charging points added.
Mr Caines told the virtual meeting: “I think it will enhance the scheme and also bring a lot of enjoyment to our guests that’ll be dining in a really modern and up-to-date environment which will complement the work that’s ongoing and Exmouth, which is definitely on the up and a great area for people to come and visit and enjoy seasonal and also regional food at the facility.
“The benefit and the reason why we are doing it is simply to extend our ability to use that area, not just through the summer but also into the winter.
“The wind is an issue there so we have concerns with regards to tables and chairs and umbrellas for some protection for our guests.
“One of the reasons why we want to put a cover on is to extend the season into the winter, of course, but also ensure our guests can enjoy the space out there safely in that exposure because we know that there’s a lot of wind in Exmouth, a lot of sand that carries across the area, and also that, even in the summer, those conditions can be a bit blustery.
“That’s also going to allow us in this critical time where table space – we need to exert a one-metre distance between each table – so having this additional space will also help the viability at this particular point of the project to enable us to profit from as many tables as we can to pay back the rent.
He added: “We’re taking everything in hand to mitigate any access of light from the glass extension by using curtains but also the only lighting we’re having in there is low-impact festoon lighting, which will give an ambience of very, very low impact so that our guests can enjoy the facilities.”
Permission was sought for a transparent canopy – with retractable walls and roof – to cover the first-floor terrace that will form part of the under-construction Queen’s Drive venue’s restaurant.
Plans submitted before the coronavirus pandemic said the space has the capacity to seat up to 60 people.
EDDC development manager Chris Rose told councillors the visual impact would be ‘acceptable and minimal’.
Resident Anne Membury objected and told the committee in a statement the canopy would ‘cause more of an obstruction to the vista at Exmouth seafront’.
She also bemoaned the loss of parking spaces on the seafront.
Cllr Paul Hayward, EDDC portfolio holder for economy, said: “Benefits of this far outweigh any potential harm. They will be an ongoing asset to this facility.”
Cllr Bruce de Saram added: “The use of the terrace all-year-round will be of significant benefit.”
Cllr Joe Whibley said: “This is a small change and, if the people who want to make the change think it’s going to increase the revenue generation and give something to the town over a longer part of the year, I can’t see any reason other to accept this.”
Cllr Geoff Pratt added: “The proposal for the restaurant will be a winner as far as I can see. A good location for a meal in the evening time during the winter.”
The application was granted permission by 14 votes to one abstention.
EDDC officers had recommended the scheme for approval and told members in a report: “The use of the terrace all-year-round will result in a greater level of noise and light impact, but, given the small nature of the area and distance to nearby properties, the proposal will not result in any detrimental impact that could justify refusal of planning permission, particularly given the economic benefits provided from wider use of the area.”
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