Council officers back seafront cafe plan

PUBLISHED: 09:34 15 July 2013 | UPDATED: 09:34 15 July 2013

The long-running battle over the Longboat Café could finally be settled tomorrow, with district planning officers backing its redevelopment.

Owner Brent Hushon put forward his latest scheme for a new state-of-the-art café earlier this year, after a judge allowed a judicial review of his previously-approved plan.

Ahead of a crucial meeting to decide the scheme’s fate, officers at East Devon District Council have come out in favour of the project, calling for councillors to approve it.

This puts them at loggerheads with Budleigh Salterton Town Council, and campaigners fighting to save the existing building, who both say that the new plan is no different to one the council previously refused.

In a report to Tuesday’s development management committee (DMC) meeting, officers say that since the previous refusal, the Government’s national planning policy framework has come into force, which says added weight should be given to the local economy when considering planning permission.

Their report adds: “As an identified [Jurassic Coast] gateway town, Budleigh Salterton can play an important role in enabling access to the heritage coast with suitable high quality facilities.

“The current scheme is of a modest scale and does not impinge on the assessment, appreciation or the natural processes which have and continue to form the World Heritage Site.

“It therefore has the potential to appropriately enhance the tourism offer that the town can make.”

The report also says that the Longboat has been altered too much to support campaigners’ claims that it is a vital example of an admiralty boathouse.

Despite the planners’ report, Budleigh district and town councillors Steve Hall and Tom Wright are continuing to oppose the plan.

In submissions to Tuesday’s meeting, Cllr Hall said: “Apart from policy reasons, this application is virtually the same as the one that was refused. I therefore cannot support it.”

Councillor Wright said: “I am very surprised at this fresh application. Except in very small ways, it is identical to the application heard on February 14, 2012, that was refused.

“There is a great deal of opposition in the town and from frequent visitors. I have received many letters and emails of objection and not one in support.”

DMC will make its ruling at the Knowle in Sidmouth, on Tuesday, July 16, at 10am.

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