PLANS to demolish Café Romany at Grève de Lecq and replace it with a four-bedroom home and eatery have been approved.
The Planning Committee yesterday voted five-to-one in favour of the scheme, submitted by De Montford Developments, which will see the reinstatement of some of the duneland on the site of the new Seaside Café and the removal of the majority of the car park.
The existing café and adjoining shop will be replaced with a smaller eatery and a four-bedroom home, while the protected German bunker will be retained and a public footpath and a turning circle for buses will be created.
Since being announced last year, the proposals have drawn a number of objections from Islanders, with critics highlighting the site’s position within the Coastal National Park, the reduction in size of the café and the loss of parking spaces.
The privately owned land can currently accommodate as many as 74 cars and 11 coaches, but this will be reduced to 16 cars with a bus stop area.
Among those who spoke against the plans during the hearing was St Ouen Constable Richard Buchanan, who said: ‘As we are at the moment with the current parking capacity, we have an issue already. If we lose this, then it would become even worse.’
Although he acknowledged the parking was private, he said the reduction in spaces would put extra pressure on traffic moving in and out of the area.
‘The issue would simply be thrown back onto the parish,’ he added.
Representatives of MS Planning, the architectural design company for the scheme, pointed to the proposed ‘dunescape’ setting, arguing that it would provide ecological and environmental improvements and ‘enhance’ the listed features of the bay, such as the German bunker.
John Nicholson, the company’s associate director, said: ‘The existing operation is redundant and the building is no longer fit for purpose.’
Trinity Constable Philip Le Sueur, who is also chairman of the Planning Committee, gave the first vote of approval.
Highlighting the overall architectural and environmental changes involved, he said the benefits of the scheme ‘usurped’ the cons.
He said: ‘There are always tensions between different policies in the Island Plan and that is the role of this committee – to work through them.’
Deputy Lindsay Ash described the plans as a ‘major improvement’ to the area, although he said the parking situation would be made ‘more awkward’, while Deputy Mary Le Hegarat said: ‘I can see why St Mary and St Ouen are concerned about the parking but, as a number of others have said, it is private.’
And Deputy Graham Truscott said: ‘The whole thing is a really well-put-together proposition.’
Deputy Steve Luce was the only member of the committee to reject the scheme, although he decided not to make any additional comments.
Speaking to the JEP after the hearing, he said: ‘I felt it needed a bit more of a compromise between the public and private requirements.’
The Seaside Café was sold over a year ago by the Lewis family, who acquired it in the early-1970s. At the time of the sale, Chris Lewis said uncertainty created by the pandemic had been a significant factor in the decision.