Bid for seafood restaurant on seafront backed by council chiefs

Rockfish restaurant opening night. Picture: Rockfish

Rockfish restaurant opening night. Picture: Rockfish - Credit: Archant

A popular seafood restaurant is set to take over and transform a redundant Sidmouth seafront site.

The front of the drill hall.

The front of the drill hall. - Credit: Archant

On Wednesday (March 7), East Devon District Council’s cabinet unanimously selected Rockfish’s bid as the preferred choice for the renewal of the Drill Hall

Negotiations will now begin with the Mitch Tonks chain which has six branches in Devon.

The Rockfish bid was selected ahead of two other proposals and is conditional on securing planning permission and licensing. It looks to refurbish the site and to create a sea-view balcony.

It is expected to create up to 30 jobs and would be open seven days a week from midday to 9.30pm. It will not use single-use plastics or polystyrene and the company has applied for Marine Stewardship Council status – the equivalent to Fairtrade.

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The company says it has a ‘proven track record’ in supporting local charities and community groups. Final negotiations are now under way, but a planning application could come in during the next few months, with work potentially beginning in September and the restaurant being open by next summer.

Councillor David Barratt said: “At last we have something positive that we can all get behind.

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“The Port Royal area has been desperate for something like this. It will be a destination, a landmark, and a huge positive for residents and visitors, and we must not let it slip through our fingers.

“When we met with Rockfish and questioned them, they said they want to use local produce and the fishmongers who are literally round the back of this site, so I want to endorse and wholeheartedly support this.”

Cllr John Dyson said the neighbourhood plan survey revealed people wanted a restaurant which was related to the sea, so it provided ‘exactly what the doctor ordered’.

Cllr Cathy Gardner said: “I am delighted we are looking at opportunity to retain and refurbished and bring the building back into use and can revitalise the area.”

Following the meeting a Rockfish spokesman said: “We are delighted to be chosen as the preferred bidder. We think it is a perfect place for Rockfish. We look forward to being a part of the community there.”

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