Expansion plans for Bracklesham Bay’s Billy’s on the Beach have today been refused.
The cafe’s application sought to extend the building to form an outdoor enclosed seating area, resulting in the foreshore access route being relocated southwards by four metres.
The plans also included a pedestrian crossing.
A total of 41 letters of support compared to five objections were received, but concerns were raised about safety for pedestrians and access issues for boats looking to launch from the slipway.
The application was refused by Chichester District Council’s planning committee today (Wednesday, March 14) by ten votes to two.
The agent for the scheme argued the new layout would be an improvement to the existing arrangements.
But Brian Reeves, from East Wittering and Bracklesham Parish Council, raised concerns about the effect of changes on disability access and safety.
He said: “Economic development is there, it’s a good thing we do not regret that and it’s excellent but it can’t be at the expense of disabled access and it can’t be at the expense of our boating community.”
Meanwhile users of the slipway described how Billy’s had outgrown the available space and the plans represented overdevelopment at the expense of other tourism trade and the boating public.
Officers explained there was a project group looking at plans to regenerate the entire area, which could include an alternative access to the foreshore to the west of the Billy’s site.
Councillor Carol Purnell described being ‘torn’ about the application but felt it was premature.
She said: “I think this should be refused at this stage until all parties are around the table to look at something that is a lot more viable.”
The committee deferred the application in October for a site visit and for officers to look at concerns raised by the foreshores officer.
Several councillors raised concerns about the ability of vehicles towing boats to turn safely if the changes went ahead.
Councillor Tricia Tull suggested just because a business had outgrown its premises did not mean it had to be given permission to expand.
She said: “It may be it’s gotten too big for its boots because it’s too successful.”
Councillor Mark Dunn added: “It’s a nightmare as it stands already but this makes it worse in my opinion.”
Officers suggested councillors could not refuse applications because they do not fix an existing problem.
But the committee refused the application due to concerns it would exacerbate an existing safety issue and a lack of information on drainage.
Read about the support for the cafe ahead of today’s meeting here: https://www.chichester.co.uk/news/business/support-for-beachside-cafe-s-expansion-plans-ahead-of-decision-1-8405227