Traders are making plans for the Colonnade’s future

Janet Bussche at Tea By The Sea
Janet Bussche at Tea By The Sea

Leaks inside the Colonnade mean the council cannot lease it longterm as planned and is looking at its options.

Members of Cabinet discussed beginning legal action over faults in this £3.2 million phase of the Next Wave plan - of which water ingress inside the Colonnade has proved most problematic.

The original intention was for it to be a high-class destination restaurant but attempts to find a suitable tenant have proved unsuccessful because of the unresolved issue.

In the meantime the Colonnade is being used by businesswoman Janet Bussche who is happy to work around the problem and busy making plans for the future.

She has been running her vintage tearoom since summer when she helped start up a pop-up fair with other traders.

Janet had hoped to be offered a long lease by Rother District Council but realised this was not going to happen while the leaks continue - the space allocated as a kitchen cannot be used but Janet has just got on with it.

She did not want to invest too much in the premises with there was no guarantee she could stay but next week sees the start of work with a new floor being laid followed by installation of public toilets and then a new kitchen space.

Janet commented: “Yes, it does leak - but it doesn’t mean it is shut. It is just something to work around for a couple of years. It will be fixed, someone will stump up for it, but in the meantime we are there and we have plans. I am going to get a full drinks licence, and have a dedicated bar area with sofas, music on Friday and Saturdays, serve Sunday lunch and ve entertainment for children - Punch and Judy shows, jugglers, clowns, family fun.”

“This is a big thing for us - everyone down here has got lots of plans but we all put them on standby because we didn’t know what was going to happen.”

The other businesses in the Colonnade include 4+2 which sells handmade craft, jewellery, handbags, and recycled mirrors, Little Vintage Baby, INDI pet boutique which has collars, biscuits, and even dog birthday cakes and cookies, Rick Moye’s artwork, canvasses, and photographs.

Janet said: “This is such a perfect place and the people who come here love it - they love the fact that everything is local, and all of it made in Bexhill. People might be visiting here and they love to take home something that has come from Bexhill. I think they like to shop local - they know we are not buying everything from the supermarket. and that everything we use we make ourselves.”

Janet is looking forward to the coming months and interested in setting up events such as local theatrical groups giving performances, musicians, singers and entertainers - if you feel you might like to perform at the Colonnade contact her on 07554870882 - and also talks, nostalgia and memory sharing of Bexhill-past from people who grew up in the town.