Controversial proposals to open a tapas restaurant in Hastings Old Town have been given the go ahead by councillors.
On Wednesday (May 1), Hastings Borough Council’s planning committee approved an application to open a restaurant within a converted parking garage at the Ice House building, in Rock-a-Nore Road.
A partly-residential building, the application had proven controversial with many living in the Ice House due to concerns about noise and disruption from the proposed commercial use.
Some of these concerns were voiced during the meeting by ward councillor James Bacon (Lab) and lead objector Michael Oliver, who lives directly above the proposed restaurant.
Cllr Bacon said: “There is a significant objection to this application from residents of the Ice House and beyond. This is why I am here tonight.
“I’m not opposed to a tapas restaurant in Hastings, in fact as a food lover this would be welcomed.
“But I do believe this is the wrong location and as one of the Old Hastings ward councillors I am here to represent the views of my residents.
“Already we know there will be a doctors’ surgery opening here soon, which means increased traffic and noise. This is, of course, for the public benefit. A restaurant is not.
“With the opening hours potentially going on until 10.30pm at night on this quiet road, this is a cause of concern for residents.
“Noise can cause great anxiety to people and this increase would be totally unfair to residents of the Ice House building.”
Meanwhile Mr Oliver argued that the proposals would reduce the security of the building and said the use of the restaurant’s entrance – particularly by smokers and drinkers – would hurt residents’ quality of life.
However the committee also heard from the developer Brian Murdoch, who argued the residents knew there would be a commercial use of the building when they bought their properties.
This original commercial use was to be a hotel and restaurant, the committee heard, but was within a different block of the building than the new application. The hotel plan has since been abandoned, however, with that part of the property set to become a doctors’ surgery instead.
Mr Murdoch said: “When the apartments were purchased planning permission was already granted for a hotel and restaurant. The hotel had no time factor restriction on it, so it was a 24/7 situation.
“All the residents who have signed the petition were aware of that at the time. The five points raised were relevant then and maybe even worse because it was a hotel.
“They didn’t moan about that then but they will moan about a little tapas restaurant down below.”
Mr Murdoch also argued there is already a restaurant immediately next to the building, which opens later than the one proposed.
The committee also heard that the application, which was recommended for approval, would be supported by the council’s planning policies on tourism.
Following a short discussion the application was granted planning permission. This decision included conditions requiring the owner to provide details of waste storage and its outside appearance.
The decision was met with anger from many of the objectors, with Mr Oliver throwing his visitor badge into the council chamber in frustration.