Sidmouth Rockfish restaurant on course for planning approval

PUBLISHED: 11:51 23 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:56 23 January 2020

The design for the restaurant at Sidmouth's converted Drill Hall. Picture: Grainge Architects

The design for the restaurant at Sidmouth's converted Drill Hall. Picture: Grainge Architects


The proposed Rockfish restaurant at Sidmouth’s Drill Hall looks set to pass an important milestone early next month.

Mitch Tonks of Rockfish. Picture: Tonks of Rockfish. Picture:

The planning application by Mitch Tonks to renovate the seafront building and add it to his chain of destination seafood restaurants is being recommended for approval by East Devon councillors on Tuesday, February 4.

Last autumn Mr Tonks told the Herald he would like to open the Sidmouth Rockfish by April or May this year, if he got planning permission.

The scheme is expected to create up to 40 local jobs and will bring the historic building back into use as an asset to Sidmouth's economy and visitor trade.

When Mr Tonks submitted the plans last summer, he said: "The Drill Hall is a unique site that has been empty for a long time, it has the most unique features that we are looking to retain and enhance as part of our scheme so as we can bring the building back to its former glory.

The Drill Hall building. Picture: Clarissa PlaceThe Drill Hall building. Picture: Clarissa Place

"Sidmouth is a wonderful seaside town that fits our ethos of fresh fish being eaten by the sea and if our application is successful, we are very much looking forward to making Rockfish Sidmouth a leading seafood destination and a community asset."

The exterior of the building will be designed to look like a working fishing building that is sympathetic with the neighbouring sailing club, RNLI and trawler agents.

There will be a new balcony, an outside seating area to the side, and a new extension to the rear.

Council planning officers have said the design is not considered to detract from the character or appearance of the area or conservation area, and will result in a building that will lift the area.

The report recommending approval said: "A commercial proposal for a fish restaurant is considered to be acceptable on the seafront as it will retain the most important features of the building, whilst retaining public access and increasing activity around a water-related enterprise.

"The use would be sympathetic to neighbouring uses and would retain the historic value of the building and bringing the building back into use is a positive for the area and local economy."

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