Good for watersports. Bad for dinner so....
A restaurant run by celebrity chef Michael Caines as part of Exmouth’s new watersports centre will feature a terrace with a retractable glass canopy that will enable year-round dining - even in blustery conditions.
Addressing an East Devon planning committee, Mr Caines said: “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.
East Devon District Council’s backed the changes, along with approving two electric vehicle charging points in the centre's car park.
Mr Caines’ plans for Sideshore will be very different to the fine dining experience available at nearby Lympstone Manor and include a range of offers to suit all tastes, from a casual dining restaurant complete with an upstairs terrace, to a dog-friendly cafe offering a lighter menu and serving homemade ice-creams, local coffee and healthy takeaway snacks, and a beach bar.
Acknowledging the covid pandemic, Mr Caines told the committee: “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.
“Overall we welcome the extension which 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.”
Cllr Paul Hayward, the council’s portfolio holder for economy said economic benefits would far outweigh any potential harm, while Cllr Bruce de Saram added that the use of the terrace all-year-round will be of significant benefit and there will be no harm to visual impact in the town.
Cllr Joe Whibley added: “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,” with Cllr Geoff Pratt adding: “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.”
Recommending approval, the council’s development manager Chris Rose said: “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.”
Councillors voted almost unanimously in favour of the application, with one abstention due to their internet connection dropping out during the debate.
The phased launch of Sideshore will see local operator Edge Watersports opening first, some time this autumn. There's been a delay because of lockdown. Steph Bridge said: “We will be offering many of our services including kitesurfing and stand up paddle boarding lessons and hire at our new location after an anticipated busy summer. The nature of our business means we can safely work outside with people, whether that’s through one-to-one lessons, distanced group lessons, or equipment hire.”
“We’re really excited to open part of our offering this year as promised at Sideshore. Our annual events, the Exe Hammer, and the Edge Race Cup will be taking place as planned this September. Next year we’ll have additional services available to residents and visitors to Exmouth to enjoy.”
Speaking after the meeting and on the overall development, Cllr Hayward added: “The Sideshore development has always been intended to deliver a vibrant and exciting community hub for both Exmouth residents and visitors to this wonderful town.
I am confident that everyone will want to take advantage of the sports and leisure facilities on offer, or grab a bite to eat, or simply just sit on the beach and watch the world go by (and perhaps a paddle-boarder or two) with a tea, coffee, soft drink or ice cream in hand.
East Devon District Council has been behind this project from the outset and therefore I am delighted that a phased opening will be possible, ensuring that first-class amenities are provided to all, whilst at the same time allowing for the safety and well-being of all visitors and users at this challenging time. This is a very positive event for the town."