ROLLING STONE Keith Richards is backing a campaign to stop an ‘enormous’ £1.5m restaurant on West Wittering beach, which has left shareholders ‘gobsmacked’.
West Wittering residents, including the Rolling Stones’ guitar legend, are encouraging others to object to an application to build a two-storey cafe/restaurant in replacement of the current smaller beach cafe (pictured above).
Mr Richards said: “The second-storey restaurant overlooks and is visible from the sea and beach. It spoils the natural beauty and seclusion of the beach. It dominates the area and degrades its character.
“The restaurant threatens the environment and locals. It cannot be allowed.”
West Wittering Estate has about 390 shareholders who purchased the land in 1952 to keep it as unspoilt and undeveloped as possible.
The current cafe was damaged by a fire, caused by an electrical fault, in October last year, and it has been operating from the life savers’ hut since then.
However, the restaurant plans have been in the making for several years.
Peter Dawson, Mr Richard’s neighbour, said he was ‘gobsmacked’ when he saw the plans.
Fellow shareholder Warren Tayler said he was surprised the new building had been located closer to the sea as an erosion map created by the Environment Agency showed the site was predicted to be eroded by 2105.
“It’s an enormous development on a beach which is preserved not to have development,” he said. “It will be visible for everybody boating or sailing and all up the channel.”
Mr Tayler added that it would be ‘dangerous’ to have premises selling alcohol in a secluded area by the sea.
The plans include space to sit 60 indoors and 40 outdoors on a terrace which overlooks the beach.
A small restaurant is planned to provide a table service on the upper floor during daytimes, with a self-service cafe on the ground floor, take-away windows and ice cream kiosks.
Patrick Byrne, a director of the estate, said the build had been sited nearer the beach so visitors could enjoy sea views for the next 50 years, as plans had not been made for the next 100 years.
He added that the building’s wooden exterior would help it ‘blend into the landscape’ and added that it would be eco-friendly, with solar panels.
Stephen Hammett, chairman of the estate, said: “We believe it will provide a tasteful improvement, and it has been carefully designed to ensure the overall feel of the estate remains unspoilt and as natural as possible.
“Our aim is to provide our customers with a better service of food and drink, so that visiting West Wittering is an even better experience than before.”
Find the application at www.chichester.gov.uk/viewplanningapplications and search 15/00391. Deadline for comments is March 19.