A contentious plan to knock down the Seaside Café at Grève de Lecq and replace it with a four-bedroom home and 100-cover café has been approved in a majority vote by the Planning Committee.
Yesterday's approval came despite numerous complaints about the application, including “40 letters of objection” deeming a potential reduction of parking spaces “unacceptable”, the committee voted in favour of moving forward with the development.
Five out of six Planning Committee members were in favour, citing the benefit of environmental and historical enhancements that they felt should offset potential concerns.
The Seaside Café, which ceased operations last year, sits within the Coastal National Park and contains a listed German bunker as part of its surrounding site.
There is currently a large car park adjacent to the main building, which the plan proposes to reduce to a smaller, sixteen space area.
Pictured: An artist's impression of the development from the beach. (MS Planning)
A smaller, 100-cover café will take the place of the current establishment, and a “recessed, four-bedroom house” will sit between it and the beach-facing bunker. Nude Food, who run similar operations in Jersey along coastal areas, were suggested as being interested in taking over the new café.
As part of the plans, a significant overhaul of the surrounding area was promised, which included the “removal of tarmac and restoration of the surrounding dunes”, the “restoration of the historic listed building” and other improvements such as a coast-to-coast “green bridge” which would allow currently segregated wildlife to safely cross from one side to the other.
It was argued by the applicant, De Montford Developments Ltd, that the plans showed a “generous and substantial contribution” to the “aesthetic, historic and ecological value” of both the site and the surrounding area. Additions to public transport infrastructure, including a designated bus-turning point, were also touted as benefits to ease-of-access and environmental sustainability.
Numerous speakers came forward in person to present their case against the proposed plan in front of the Committee at yesterday's meeting at St. Paul's Centre.
Pictured: An impression of the site from the main road. (MS Planning)
There were concerns raised that parking at Grève de Lecq was already difficult during peak times, and that further reductions to available spaces would serve to exacerbate the problem with “16 spaces not even enough to cater for the new café”.
The applicant, however, noted that the parking spaces had always been private property, and that in the past the public would use them despite “not necessarily giving custom their custom to the previous café”. With “160 public spaces” already available in nearby public car parks, it was argued that this should be sufficient to meet the demand of visitors to the area.
In his response to the arguments, Planning Committee Chair, Constable Philip Le Sueur, stated that the “benefits of the plan usurped the negatives” and that the current site was “not an attractive advert” for the island.
Committee member Deputy Jeremy Maçon agreed, adding: “There are lots of benefits here, both historical and environmental.”
“As it stands, it’s an eyesore,” said Deputy Lindsay Ash, “reminiscent of a bygone era, and similar to the boarded up coastal areas we see across England”. Despite submitting his approval of the plans, Deputy Ash praised the arguments of those seeking refusal of the development as some of the “most articulate and well presented” that he had heard throughout his tenure of sitting on the Planning Committee.
Pictured: A sunset view from the east, showing the new dune landscaping and the car tunnel leading to the single property. (MS Planning)
Deputy Mary Le Hegarat agreed that the current structure was a “horrendous building”. It was noted that if parking in the area continued to be an issue in future, then that would be an issue to be discussed at a later date.
A new proposition to ensure that the presence of a café would be maintained in future was brought forward by the applicant, to which the committee agreed the approval of the plan would be conditional.
Deputy Steve Luce tabled the only refusal to the proposed development, stating that he had “prepared a long speech” but ultimately “decided not to say it."
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