Cafe owners ordered to remove ‘inappropriate’ Exmouth seafront decking after they failed to ask permission for the seating area

Café owners on Exmouth seafront must remove ‘completely inappropriate’ outdoor decking they fitted without permission.

Hangtime Cafe has been ordered to tear down new decking it had already started to build next to its takeaway outlet on Exmouth seafront, writes local democracy reporter Will Goddard.

Owners Oliver Bridge and Megan Barnett were “unaware” they needed permission from East Devon District Council (EDDC), planning documents say.

Exmouth

The decking at Hangtime Cafe, Exmouth.
Photo: LDRS/Will Goddard.

They had wanted to provide more seating as their business has reportedly grown significantly since it opened at the Sideshore development in 2020.

When finished, the decking would have had handrails and recycled sail material balustrades on two sides, a planter on the northern boundary and tables and chairs made of wood.

Exmouth

Hangtime Cafe, on Exmouth seafront, before the decking was installed.
Image EDDC.

But now EDDC has told them they must remove it within three months and put the area back the way it was.

Cllr Nick Hookway (Lib Dem, Exmouth Littleham) lamented the removal of the original plants and described the decking as “way out of scale and completely inappropriate”.

He said: “There are plants there that have been specifically put there to cope with what is really a very quite savage marine environment.

“When the decking appeared, it was a bit of a shock because nobody had any forewarning that this was happening.

“The design is very pragmatic; it’s just a piece of decking, it has no architectural merit whatsoever.

“I absolutely agree that the area should be reinstated as it was with those particular plants.”

Cllr Alasdair Bruce (Independent, Feniton) added: “It doesn’t seem to be a particularly large piece of land that’s been smothered by decking, but I can assure you… a small piece of land like that returned to nature has a profound effect on the local biodiversity.

“It is, in fact, an integral part of that system in that area, I would argue. And the removal of it can have a severely detrimental effect on the biodiversity in that area.”

Exmouth Town Council also opposed the plans to keep the decking.

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