Plans approved for Sidmouth’s Rockfish restaurant

The design for Rockfish at Sidmouth's Drill Hall. Picture: Grainge Architects

The design for Rockfish at Sidmouth's Drill Hall. Picture: Grainge Architects - Credit: Archant

A new Rockfish restaurant is swimming its way to Sidmouth, after winning unanimous planning approval from East Devon district councillors.

Chef Mitch Tonks will now be able to go ahead with his plan to turn the old Drill Hall on the seafront into a branch of his upmarket seafood restaurant chain.

The plan had been recommended for approval and had the support of Sidmouth Town Council.

The district council's development management committee took just five minutes to back the proposal this morning (Tuesday, February 4).

Many people had welcomed the prospect of the dilapidated Drill Hall, which is owned by the district council, being brought back into use.

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Planning officers also backed the design of the proposed renovation, which will include a balcony, an outside seating area and an extension to the rear.

Cllr Denise Bickley called for the committee to approve the application.

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She said: "I hope this is granted today as the regeneration of the derelict Drill Hall will transform the Port Royal area.

"The building pulls down the area, so let us allow the regeneration as soon as possible and not delay it for another summer in our beautiful town."

Cllr David Key recommended approval, saying: "It will improve the area and bring the building into good use," while Cllr Tom Wright said: "The plans will greatly enhance the area."

Investment into the Sidmouth project will be more than £1m and there will be the creation of 30-40 local jobs, the committee were told.

Recommending approval, Chris Rose, development manager, said: ""The proposal is considered to reflect policies within the Neighbourhood Plan that support commercial properties in this location that reflect the fishing and coastal history and with retained linkages to the town centre.

"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."

When the plans were submitted last summer, Mr Tonks said: "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."

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