Objections sink plan for Canoe Lake restaurant

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CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a large restaurant next to Southsea’s Canoe Lake have been withdrawn.

Proposals submitted in July for a 200-seat building met with overwhelming opposition from local people, council officers and residents’ groups.

The now-scrapped restaurant would have replaced the semi-derelict Canoe Lake stores – which would have been demolished – but objections were raised over the size and location of the planned development.

Carl Leroy-Smith, the architect who drew up the plans, said his practice Deer Park Alpha wanted to work with the council and residents to come up with new proposals.

He said: ‘The lease holder already has planning permission to build a smaller restaurant which could seat around 40 people. That was applied for a few years ago, although now his ideas have changed and he would prefer to build something larger.

‘But after seeing the sheer number of objections we have come to the conclusion that we should withdraw the plans and listen to what the community wants.

‘We want to do something with that site which will be an asset to all of us.

‘So we want to hear what people would like to have at Canoe Lake instead.’

During a meeting of the East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum some local people raised concerns that a licensed restaurant would change the child-friendly character of the area.

The majority of people either wanted no change to the site or improvements to the existing cafe – which is also leased from Portsmouth City Council by Dr Sed Hosseni – instead of new construction work.

Seafront manager David Evans said: ‘I did object to what was suggested because I thought it was too big.

‘But then I also thought 45 seats was too small for a financially-viable restaurant. Something in the middle would be better in my view.’

Neighbourhood forum committee member Leon Reis said he was happy the application had been withdrawn and those behind it were asking people what they wanted.

In his submission to the council he wrote: ‘While an innovative new building might be extremely attractive in this park, the community will rightly ask if this is the correct building for the site, and whether it might be too big and its future use too vague and potentially damaging.’