ANGRY residents fear plans to redevelop a seafront shelter as a £300,000 restaurant with roof-top seating will spoil their seaside idyll.
About 40 Westcliff residents blasted businesswoman Antonia Waite’s plans to serve alcohol from the sun shelter in Western Esplanade and install an ice-cream kiosk and seating on the roof.
People nearby fear noise from the rooftop dining, which was ruled out in the previous planning permission, alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour and increased traffic will interrupt their peace.
Miss Waite already has permission to open the restaurant until 11pm Monday to Saturday and 10pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays and will push ahead with plans for an alcohol licence.
Nigel Furby, of the Overcliff apartments above the shelter, said: “We strongly object to this proposal. “Not only will it directly affect the outlook for all of us, but the adjacent streets are already heavily congested.
“Parking is almost impossible in Clifton Drive and Manor Road and this will in all probability lead to the public seeking out parking in the Overcliff’s private car park.
“The lack of public toilet facilities will no doubt encourage more people to use the garden at the Overcliff – a problem we already have.’’
Mr Furby added: “The gardens behind the shelter have been in disrepair for the last 11 months, but prior to that were always littered with rubbish left by the public.”
Southend Council chose Miss Waite to convert the dilapidated public shelter into a modern restaurant and agreed plans in June.
The 28-year-old, from Leigh, whose grandparents opened Tomassi’s in Southend High Street, hopes to launch her business, to be called the Oyster Creek Kitchen, next spring.
Neighbours initially welcomed the conversion as the rundown shelter had become a magnet for drunks and the homeless.
But they now object to Miss Waite’s plans for a glass kiosk selling ice-cream and coffee with outdoor seating on top of the locally-listed structure, and alcohol being served.
Antonia Waite insisted the rooftop kiosk and seating would only open on the busiest summer days, denied it would attract any more drivers and said customers would only drink with meals.
She said: “I can’t see it causing any issues. With the parking, it won’t attract any more people than on any sunny day. "It’s not going to be a late-night bar. It would be for meals. People want to have a drink with their meals.”
Miss Waite included the kiosk in her bid for the lease, but left it off the original redevelopment application as she wanted to get it running as soon as possible. She submitted the further application, but is now reconsidering it after objections from neighbours.
She said: “We don’t want to fall out with them and we will consider their views before we make any decision.”