Pub chain’s application includes a rooftop garden

6/1/15- Site of the new Wetherspoons in Western Road, Bexhill. SUS-150601-125204001
6/1/15- Site of the new Wetherspoons in Western Road, Bexhill. SUS-150601-125204001

Ambitious plans from pub giant J.D Wetherspoon to redevelop the cinema in Western Road include a beer garden on top of a rear flat roof.

The planning application, lodged with Rother District Council, outlines work which will include reworking ground floor properties, levelling them and turning three retail units back into one, with existing shop fronts revamped into a facade “more appropriate to a free house.”

It can only be a good thing for Bexhill

The first floor facade is to remain unchanged. Access and layouts will be created on the first floor, with new toilets, and the steps which previously were the way to the cinema via the second floor will provide a fire escape route. There will be a new opening out to the proposed beer garden the top of the flat roof, above number 36, and this will be shielded from the street scene by the existing first floor block. Access will be gained via two staircases and a new internal lift.

Wetherspoon said the venue is well served by the rail and bus public transport infra-structure so is proposing the development is car park free due to the site’s “highly accessible town-centre location.”

East Sussex Highways are in accord with this view, say Wetherspoon, but in fact consultant Ben Lenton conceded though no parking is to be provided “a highway reason for refusal would be difficult to sustain.”

He noted: “The nature of the proposed use of the premises as a public house should also discourage vehicular traffic travelling to and from the site.” Today is the public’s last chance to submit views to the council ahead of a decision by the planning committee.

Among objections is one from Mark Richards, of London Road, on grounds of over-saturation, lack of parking facilities, potential for noise from the open air garden area, and the possibility of disturbances in a built-up area, adding: “I would also bring in to question the problem of deliveries in a street already besieged by parking problems.”

Pat Tidd of Western Road thinks parking in the street is “a nightmare” and asked if Bexhill needs another drinking establishment taking trade away from other businesses. Tim Clarke comments: “There is a valid proposal to restore the former Playhouse Theatre/Cinema, and re-open it as a major asset to Bexhill. This is the last remaining historic cinema in the town. Once gone, it is gone forever.”

However Elizabeth Hews, of Hazelwood Close, fully supports the application and said: “If Wetherspoons do as good a job on the Playhouse as they have on similar buildings elsewhere in the UK,it can only be a good thing for Bexhill. The Playhouse will be renovated, at last, and local shops will benefit from the people attracted to the area.”