COUNCILLORS have been praised for championing public opinion after they approved extra cafe seating at a Southsea landmark, against the recommendation of officers.
At a planning committee meeting today Portsmouth city councillors voted unanimously in favour of a decked area for tables and chairs next to South Parade Pier.
The 100sq m terrace will provide 76 seats for customers of Tea on Sea, a hot drink and cake kiosk on the pier.
In their report council officers said that the raised area would neither preserve nor enhance the architectural and historical features of the Grade II-listed building or protect the conservation area of the beach. They recommended that councillors refuse planning permission. However, councillors claimed these fears were unfounded and cited the council’s seafront masterplan which was compiled to improve seafront areas such as the South Parade Pier.
Lib Dem leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘The seafront masterplan says we should be encouraging more attractions on the seafront. I can’t understand how this proposal that sits within the plan’s remit could be viewed as negative. In policy terms we have no choice but to support this application.
‘The pier has been through very difficult times. The owners have put a lot of money into running it. The council should support businesses along the seafront. I was really surprised to see this recommendation.’
Cllr Lee Hunt agreed. He added: ‘Part of the reason for the masterplan was that we wanted to put money into these historic buildings. We want them to be economically viable so that they can be preserved for the future.
‘I don’t believe the terrace will detract from the architectural quality of the pier.’
Speaking after the meeting on behalf of the pier’s owners, Nick Courtney said: ‘Fair play to the councillors for voting in favour of public opinion and not what they were recommended.
‘The terrace will be up and running as soon as possible, hopefully by the summer.’
Councillors voted in favour of the terrace under the condition that its opening hours are between 8am and 8pm to avoid disturbing nearby residents.