Published: 17:23, 25 August 2020
| Updated: 17:25, 25 August 2020
Controversial plans for a new outdoor seating area for 120 people on Whitstable beach have been refused.
Bosses at the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company (WOFC) submitted plans to build the wooden decking for customers of The Forge oyster shack in Island Wall.
It would have been on the beach opposite, currently used by Whitstable Yacht Club (WYC) to store boats.
The shack stocks food and drink - including alcoholic beverages - and already has an outdoor seating area on site.
Almost 200 representations were submitted by residents - who expressed fears of increased anti-social behaviour, congestion in a busy pedestrian area, more litter and children being exposed to lewd behaviour fuelled by booze.
Speaking on behalf of the WOFC to the city council's licensing sub-committee today, barrister James Rankin rebuffed concerns the extra covers could lead to problems caused by drink.
He said because "alcohol is not cheap" at The Forge, buying it is "not as attractive" to customers.
"The cost of a pint is £6 and additional to the cost of that pint is a £1 deposit for your plastic cup. So that’s £7 you have to shell out for your pint."
He said large quantities of alcohol are not sold and most of the sales are made through food.
Bosses at the yacht club were strongly opposed to the plan as they feared it could harm its revenue and membership.
The site is privately-owned by the Oyster Company and leased to the yacht club - but the agreement is set to end on Monday.
WYC commodore Kelvin Tolson also believed the expansion could lead to the cadets - who are on the beach on Friday evenings and weekends - being exposed to "unruly behaviour".
But Mr Rankin responded: "For goodness sake, these are people who are training to go into the Royal Navy.
"To suggest they are going to be exposed to seeing people with a glass of wine in their hand - as if there’s something wrong with that."
He questioned whether they would be "corrupted and irrevocably damaged" by people having large quantities of food and small amounts of alcohol.
But the licensing sub-committee - formed of councillors Ashley Clark, Colin Spooner and Derek Maslin - all shot down the plans.
They considered the application under the four key objectives, which are the prevention of crime and disorder, public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and protection of children from harm.
"After careful consideration the sub-committee has determined that this application, if granted, will harm each of those licensing objectives and that harm can not be ameliorated through the addition of conditions," they said.
"Therefore, the sub-committee has unanimously decided that this application should be refused."