Rockfish restaurant will be a ‘real asset’
PUBLISHED: 10:59 29 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:44 29 August 2019
A £1million transformation project to turn Sidmouth’s historic Drill Hall into a seafood restaurant has won the backing of the town council.
Sidmouth Town Council's planning committee met on Wednesday evening (August 28) to discuss the application to convert the Drill Hall into a Rockfish restaurant.
Business owner Mitch Tonks has applied to convert the hall into a restaurant, create a new balcony, develop a single-storey extension and create an external terrace.
The proposal was met with strong support by councillors and residents, however, concerns were raised over the proposed charcoal grey colour which was called 'confusing' and 'depressing' by residents.
The plans showed the exterior of the building has been designed to looked like a working fishing building to fit in with the nearby sailing club, lifeboat station and trawler agents.
Sidmouth Trawler's Mary Bagwell said she could see major access problems during deliveries to the restaurant due to a no parking zone on The Ham.
She added: "Colour wise, I don't like the dark charcoal grey, it's very depressing."
As part of the plans the business would invest in excess of £1million for the project, creating between 30 and 40 jobs.
Sidmouth resident Keith Northover said it was a 'marvellous' idea, and told the meeting: "It's very nice for once to see something good for Sidmouth. After the fiasco of the Knowle and the estate in Sidford this is good news. I think this will be a great asset to the town."
The application says the proposed main restaurant would be in the main hall on the ground floor level with four new window openings along the eastern wall.
Councillor John Rayson voted against the proposal and it said it was 'out of keeping' with the area.
Cllr David Barratt disagreed saying the transformation of the Drill Hall was something the council had been working towards and should be strongly supported.
Cllr Ian Barlow said the building looked smart and modern and the colour should be left to a conservation officer to decide.
He said: "This is a good thing for Sidmouth. It's bringing Sidmouth into the next generation. We need to remember we cater for a more retired market, but our retired market is always moving.
"This is a real asset to the town and it should be clear that we do want it."
East Devon District Council will decide the fate of the application.