Celebrity chef Mitch Tonks has delayed putting his Sidmouth Rockfish restaurant proposals in front of planners, writes local democracy reporter Bradley Gerrard.
The Rockfish restaurant chain owner has been asked by the Environment Agency to provide more detailed flood risk assessments before his plan for the town’s Drill Hall goes to East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) planning committee.
The proposed build, at the former headquarters of the Sidmouth Territorial Army branch, was set to be debated by Councillors on Tuesday (November 21), but will now be considered at a future date.
The Environment Agency has asked Mr Tonks for a flood evacuation plan before the committee considers the scheme.
East Devon District Council, which owns the land, said it is committed, alongside Rockfish, to “achieve the redevelopment of the seafront site”, and that Mr Tonks would work hard to get the application in front of planners soon.
Mr Tonks originally hoped the restaurant would open to the public in the autumn of 2020.
The scheme, which would involve replacing existing public toilets with fewer cubicles, had split opinion.
A total of 15 out of 24 public comments were objections, which cited the negative impact on views to Port Royal, the loss of recreation land, and loss of existing shelters and seating next to the building.
However, those in support acknowledged that redevelopment was “much needed” and recognised the potential for new jobs.
They also welcomed the removal of the shelters, stating that this could help decrease anti-social behaviour there.
Sidmouth Town Council supported the application, but highlighted a “missed opportunity to provide an exceptional building which would take full advantage of the views of the World Heritage Site and be a credit to Sidmouth”.
The town council added that it did not feel that two unisex toilets were sufficient to replace the current public conveniences.