Much-loved Bexhill tea room applies for new lease

Tea Beside the Sea, Bexhill. SUS-150819-121924001
Tea Beside the Sea, Bexhill. SUS-150819-121924001

A popular tea room, which its supporters fear could be asked to leave its premises in favour of a high-end restaurant, is preparing its case to stay.

Tea Beside the Sea, situated on The Colonnade, will see its lease expire in October.

Owner Janet Bussche is preparing to submit an application to Rother District Council in a bid to stay at the premises.

But Janet fears the tea room could be over-looked in favour of an upmarket restaurant.

She said: “They have a vision of having a five-star restaurant in that site. But it’s not suitable for what they would like it to be because it’s damp, there’s no street lights and it’s a difficult building to get to in the bad weather.”

Tea Beside the Sea is more than just a tea room – it is a thriving community hub and is regularly used as a meeting place for community groups.

And the community has rallied round the business, with more than 3,000 signing a petition in support.

Janet added: “I think it’s so sad when we have worked to revive the whole area.

“It’s so sad when the council do not even come to see what we have done.”

Alastair Hazell, entrepreneur and business mentor, said: “I think Janet at Tea Beside the Sea, and indeed all of the little shops and stalls that are succeeding at our wonderful King George V Colonnade, should be commended for transforming the Colonnade into a thriving venue for both visitors and residents.

“One must question why, with it being such an attractive hub for craft shops, cafes and live music, and a great attraction for Bexhill’s visitor economy, Rother is looking for someone to come in, take the lease over and turn it into a restaurant.

“One can point to both money and Rother’s continued lack of care and support for its core industry – tourism. I don’t believe the location to be a viable one for a restaurant, but that is neither here nor there.

“I truly believe their approach on this is a blind and selfish one – they should be supporting people like Janet, and indeed everyone who has been making a difference for Bexhill’s tourism economy. Instead, they do the absolute opposite.

“As residents of Bexhill, we are right to be very concerned about these decisions by our council and what they mean for the town’s future.”

Rother District Council had previously told the Observer that it had to advertise the premises to ensure the local authority “obtain the best value for the council and for our taxpayers”.

The closing date for parties to register their interest in the Colonnade is Friday, March 18.

A final decision will be made by councillors.