Published: 14:44, 30 December 2020
| Updated: 14:54, 30 December 2020
A firm wanting to build a microbrewery along a coastal stretch has been urged to add a bar to the scheme - after its plans were snubbed again.
The Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company’s proposals to build the beer haven in Reculver, Herne Bay, were thrown out earlier this month.
This comes nine months after its initial bid to transform the derelict storage units on the seafront were refused by Canterbury City Council officers.
The company abandoned its ambitions to create an outdoor seating area when it lodged its second application – but Cllr Neil Baker believes it could have been given the go-ahead if it had stuck to its guns.
The Tankerton Tory told a planning committee meeting a fortnight ago: “I think what’s happened here is a little unfortunate. Because of that previous rejection, the applicant has stripped back many of the things that would have justified us giving it permission.
“By that I mean what we’ve got now is a glorified shed with a bit of an extension on that brews beer chiefly.
“If there was more of a tourism aspect to this – if it were more of a bar, frankly – you could make a different argument.
“I hope the applicant doesn’t take it as there being no possible chance for a business here and actually reverts to their previous application.”
The project was refused by members as planning policy dictates the brewery could instead operate in an industrial estate, rather than at the site earmarked, which is just 260 metres away from Reculver Towers.
Conservative councillor Ashley Clark says the rules leave the developer with two options – to raze the unsightly sheds to the ground and leave the site clear, or “construct something that is more sympathetic and attractive”.
He added: “Reculver Towers is an important site that dates back to Roman times.
“If the development was something that was sympathetic in design, then I think there may be a reason for it. But [there isn’t for] something that could also be stuck on an industrial estate, brewing beer.”
Prior to the meeting, local authority planners recommended the project be refused.
But WOFC says the site would have created four full-time jobs and allowed visitors to occasionally tour the site and sample freshly-produced drinks.
Herne Bay councillor David Thomas thinks the development would have helped to attract further investment along the coast.
“We’re trying to regenerate this whole area and we’re trying to encourage glamping and camping sites,” he said.
“Converting the buildings into a microbrewery would enhance the area, encourage more people to travel there and tidy it up.
“The access is already there and the building is already there. This could kickstart the whole area of Reculver.”
In all, nine councillors voted to refuse the proposal, while three supported it and one abstained.
But a WOFC spokesman says the firm remains committed to the scheme.
He said: “While we are disappointed at the decision, we have taken on board some of the comments made by committee members and will try to work these into a new application that will be submitted in the new year.
“We are committed to the project that will help to rejuvenate the area, create jobs and act as an attraction to people visiting the area.”