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Sidmouth Rockfish loos and flood issues still to be sorted

Tuesday, 5 March 2024 06:53

By Bradley Gerrard, local democracy reporter

How Sidmouth's Rockfish should look (image courtesy: EDDC planning documents/ Rockfish)

But seafood restaurant should open next year

A long-awaited Devon seafood chain will open for business on Sidmouth seafront next spring, it is hoped. 

But plans for a Rockfish restaurant are still not ready to go before East Devon District Council (EDDC)’s planning committee, a council meeting has heard.

The scheme had been due to be considered by planners last November, but was put on hold when the Environment Agency asked Rockfish, a series of eateries owned by westcountry chef Mitch Tonks, to provide a flood evacuation plan. 

“We’re still awaiting – and the local planning authority is still dealing with – an outstanding consultation with the Environment Agency – and it’s likely they’ll be seeking some further information from Rockfish which can be sent to the Environment Agency for further consultation,” the council’s project manager for place and prosperity Alison Hayward said. 

The planning application seeks to convert the seafront Drill Hall, once the headquarters of the Sidmouth Territorial Army, into a restaurant.  

The adjacent Port Royal toilet block would be demolished and replaced with  dining space, but two separate unisex public loos would be built around the back of the restaurant. 

The incorporation of the toilets into the proposals comes as EDDC tries to wash its hands of facilities it can no longer afford. 

It has offered 12 of its loos to commercial operators to turn them into cafes, takeaways or community hubs – although the public must still be able to go to the lavatory there – and also to town and parish councils to run instead of EDDC.  

The council is also refurbishing or rebuilding 15 of them at an estimated cost of £5 million. 

Public opinion is divided over knocking down Sidmouth Port Royal loos and replace them with two unisex toilets outside the proposed restaurant.  

Twenty-one people have objected and 11 have written in support. 

Detractors lament the proposed loss of the public shelter and seating outside  and a potential impact on views. 

But supporters say the Drill Hall needs redeveloping and the restaurant would provide new jobs. 

Sidmouth Town Council supports the application, but feels two unisex loos would not be enough to replace the toilet block and it does not like the design of the restaurant. 


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