Published: 12:56, 12 June 2020
| Updated: 13:04, 12 June 2020
Controversial plans to add an extra outdoor seating area for 120 customers at an oyster shack have sparked fears over litter and anti-social behaviour.
The Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company has submitted proposals to increase the capacity of The Forge near Sea Wall.
If approved, the additional chairs will be installed adjacent to the eatery.
The shack stocks food and drink - including alcoholic beverages - and already has an outdoor seating area on site.
But bosses at the Whitstable Yacht Club (WYC) fear the expansion could harm its revenue and membership.
Vice commodore Jo Phillips said 120 covers for a catering facility is "large by any standards, especially for Whitstable".
"There are implications for increased litter and waste, congestion in a busy pedestrian area," she said.
"Where are the toilets, handwashing and other facilities for diners to use?
"Use of the beach to site tables and chairs will create an obstruction to anyone using it, not least of all, boat owners and sailors who currently pay rent to store their boats there through membership of Whitstable Yacht Club."
She also said the loss of any boat storage would have a "serious impact" on the club and would "limit the club's ability" to host major sailing events that attract visitors.
"WYC, in common with many sporting and community facilities, must maintain and retain membership if it is to survive," she added.
Dozens of yachts currently occupy the area of beach located in front of The Forge which could be converted into a seating area.
Cllr Val Kenny (Lab) has sided with the yacht club and rebuked the bid.
“If granted, these extra seats would jeopardise the character of our beach and the work of the yacht club" the Gorrell ward councillor said.
"Extra seating attached to a premises which is going to be closed every evening will attract further anti-social behaviour which has been a problem around Keams Yard already."
The licence application for the proposed seating area in front of The Forge relates to land privately owned by the Oyster Company which is currently leased to the WYC.
The lease will come to an end on August 31.
Bosses at the Oyster Company are also intending to lodge a planning application for a grading area and associated facilities to the east of the launching ramp for its oyster farming operations.
A spokesperson says the WYC started consultations in September last year and the remaining areas of land currently leased to the club have been offered to them under a new lease.
"The areas offered to the yacht club represents 78% of the beach currently leased to them," they said.
"We have also offered to facilitate access to these areas by building an access way along the top of the beach for use by them.
"We value the WYC as a tenant and recognise their contribution to sailing in the area and firmly believe our proposals will not adversely affect the club.
"As yet, no response has been received to our offer of a new lease."
People have the opportunity to object to the licensing application before July 2.