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Sinking feeling for new floating restaurant plan
8:30am Saturday 1st February 2014 in Southend
PLANNERS look set to sink ambitious proposals for a “floating” restaurant on Southend seafront over fears about its size.
Officers have recommended Southend Council refuse plans to transform the singlestorey KJ’s cafe near the Genting Club, in Western Esplanade, Westcliff, into a modern restaurant that projects out over the foreshore, giving the impression it is floating when the tide is in.
Business leaders hoped the two-storey restaurant would attract more visitors to the area, but officers fear it would block sea views.
However, that view has been criticised by the creators of the modern plans who pointed out other developments are being built along the seafront. Paul Seager, the Southend architect behind the design, said: “We have designed it to keep open views, with glass and sliding doors.
“We have gone to great effort to keep the openness and character.
“If you look at the kiosk there now, it’s an old building and this was an opportunity to bring in an iconic building that would contribute to the regeneration of the seafront.”
He then hit out at the fact other developments were allowed, such as the Thames Estuary Yacht Club, which is putting the finishing touches to a new, two-storey clubhouse just a few hundred metres along Western Esplande.
Mr Seager, of APS Design Associates, added: “We are amazed they could allow the new Thames Estuary Yacht Club clubhouse further up and then refuse this.”
The planned restaurant, the bulk of which would be the existing kiosk, would have a dual-level upper deck, but the upstairs would have no walls or roof to limit its impact.
A side extension would be glazed to maintain picturesque sea views.
Mr Seager, acting on behalf of developer Emmanuel Popat, compared the proposed restaurant to other high-quality seafront buildings, such as the redeveloped Genting Casino and the Toulouse restaurant.
Paul Thompson, chairman of Southend Seafront Traders’ Association, said: “The restaurant looked nice and it would bring more people to the town. It would attract jobs and investment.”
However, not everyone is a fan of the project.
Julian Ware-Lane, Labour councillor for Milton, said: “I have reservations about building anything on the foreshore.
“It’s an interesting building, but I’m not enamoured and if the officers’ opinion is endorsed by the committee I would be happy.”
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