‘Utterly ridiculous’ bid to turn grassy space into outdoor area for Exmouth hotel is rejected

A bid to use a grassy space as an outdoor seating area for an Exmouth hotel was panned as ‘utterly ridiculous’ by councillors who unanimously rejected the idea.

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) StreetScene department had sought planning permission to temporarily site up to 12 tables and 24 chairs outside the Manor Hotel on The Beacon.

But the authority’s own Planning Committee rubbished the scheme at its April meeting and said it would ‘ruin the summer’ for nearby residents.

Members went against the recommendation of officers by refusing the application.

Development manager Chris Rose had recommended approval and said the short-term seating area for patrons of the Manor Hotel would meet social distancing requirements and ‘support a local business in times of crisis’.

But local resident Mark Myer said that there was no support for the proposal which was ‘misguided and inappropriate’.

Fellow householder Graham Hurley added: “It is a treasured public space and offers peace and quiet and wonderful views, but there could be noise and antisocial behaviour every night all summer.

“There is no regard to neighbours, history, public interest and practicalities of running the site.”

Town councillor Tim Dumper told the committee: “Support for business cannot mean neglecting all other considerations.”

Recommending refusal, Councillor Olly Davey said: “This is tricky as we are keen to support local businesses and the Manor have no outdoor space, but we have to consider the impact on other people, and in this case, there will be a bit of impact on local residents.

“There are definitely practical difficulties to this and with people sitting out and eating and drinking, I would have strenuous objections as well if I lived there.

“Other pubs don’t have outdoor space and they will have to grit their teeth and hold on to May 17.

“The amenity of local residents outweighs the advantage to business, so I recommend refusal.”

Cllr Joe Whibley added: “The biggest issue is the practicality of it and I cannot see how it will work with potentially endangering life crossing the road and the distance between the hotel and the area, so none of it makes any sense as to how it will be useful.

“We do need to promote business in these difficult times, but you cannot override all of the other considerations.”

Cllr David Key said it was ‘utterly ridiculous’ to think you could get 12 tables and 24 chairs on the undulating piece of land.

Cllr Bruce de Saram added that the British weather could be a problem, while Cllr Tony Woodward added: “This will be ruining the summer of residents.”

It had been hoped the tables and chairs would be in situ until September 30.

The committee unanimously rejected the application on the grounds it would harm the amenity of local residents and have a harmful visual impact on the conservation area.

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