Outdoor seating on the strand approved

exmouth strand

Site plan of the seating area on Exmouth Strand. - Credit: Requesta plan

There will be outdoor seating in Exmouth's town centre this summer after a planning application was given the green light.

East Devon District Council approved a planning application which allows all businesses on Exmouth Strand to set out extra outdoor seating space for their businesses.

The terms come with conditions that include the land must be restored to normal before September 30. Planning permission was granted in January 2021 for the use of the siting out area until September 2021, and this application seeks to extend the time period for another two summers until September 2022.

According to the planning report, concerns were raised by local residents living on the strand of anti-social behaviour that could arise from people staying out late and drinking in the summer months. There are residential flats above many bars and restaurants in The Strand.

The principle of temporarily changing the use of the land within The Strand is accepted through policy E9 of the Local Plan which "encourages uses which contribute to the diversity and vitality of town centres. Under the current economic situation brought on by COVID-19, the provision of external seating areas is considered to make an important contribution to the local economy and businesses."

In March, the owners of Spoken, Franklins, Grapevine, the Bayleaf Cafe and Palm released a YouTube video campaigning for EDDC to change the charges and released it to the local press.

EDDC then redacted the original offer and came to an agreement with the businesses to charge a more reasonable rent charge for outdoor seeing on the strand this summer.

The idea for outdoor seating started in 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic to allow the catering and casual dining sector re-open safely after lockdown, the extra seating allowed people to stay two metres from one another. 

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In 2021, businesses in The Strand were charged £100 by Devon County Council for putting extra outdoor seating on pavement areas. This year East Devon District Council proposed charging thousands of pounds - equivalent to £14,400 pro rata - for the use of its land before eventually redacting the offer.