Saturday, 20 February 2010

Babbacombe Downs and the Fish & Chip Shop

Some rich restaurateur has come up with a plan to turn some old toilets on Babbacombe Downs in to a Fish Restaurant. The toilets are a single story building and are set on a ledge 10 feet below the top of the cliff and so do not distract from the splendid view of Portland Bay that we (at present) get from the Downs. The Downs are 250 feet above the sea so the view is extensive and so far no one has come up with the daft idea of building anything to obstruct this view. Until the above mentioned rich restaurateur. He saw the view and decided it was the best view in the South West. So what did he want to do with this outstanding view? I'll tell you; he wanted to build an outstanding dump, sorry that should read fish restaurant. It might end up being outstanding for the quality of fish it serves but most people are concerned it will be outstanding for a different reason. He, the rich restaurateur, wants to knock the toilets down and replace them with a two story building which will be outstanding because it will extend 10 feet or more above the top of the cliff and spoil the view for everyone except those eating in this expensive fish restaurant. They will have wonderful views while they eat fish and chips, not out of newspaper, that's not allowed anymore.

The outstanding nature of the building isn't the only problem. There are several good pubs and hotels set back from the Downs that serve excellent food and at least 4 common or garden fish and chip shops that have been there since the days fish and chips were eaten from newspaper. All have won awards over the years for the quality of their product. There are enough places in the area selling food. What there isn't in the area, which is an other problem is parking places. The sort of clientele out rich restaurateur is hoping to attract are not likely to make their way to Babbacombe on a 32 bus, excellent thought the 32 bus service is. They will all want some where to park their big cars and there simple will not be anywhere. So they will drive round the block and go somewhere else and the rich restaurateur will end up being not quiet so rich, even go bust. If he does will he knock his now empty fish restaurant down or will he walk away and leave it to become the haunt of undesirables, like seagulls and druggies?

Anyway there is a protest group on Facebook with over 900 members and the slightly long winded title of Keep your fishy fingers of Babbacombe Downs. Tomorrow Saturday the 20th, probably today by the time you are reading this, a member of the group is planning to go down to the Downs armed with posts and tape to mark out how big this dump is going to be, should be fun. He has invited the Herald Express along plus anyone who feels strongly enough to be there to let Mayor Nick Bye know we are not going to let this happen without a fight. Though no fighting tomorrow please, this is a peaceful protest. Kicks off at 2pm and I will be there with camera to record the event.

All these people, some of them Morris Dancers, are standing on top of the toilet block. But they aren't blocking the view alone the coast, unlike the posh fish restaurant would if it gets built.


Dave from Barwell said...

Thank you for explaining and illustrating the reason why so many people are up in arms about this proposal, Dave. You have made it all much clearer and I've been following the story in the 'Herald Express' on line but I was unsure quite where the proposed development was located. Forget driving buses and take up a new career as a photo-journalist!

Anonymous said...

It's 30 feet long. The Downs are, what, half a mile long? How can a 30 foot long restaurant block a viewpoint that's half a mile long?

And it's not an outstanding building. Quite frankly it stinks. And in the evenings men come around and stick their penises into other mens anuses.

The Facebook page requires membership before you can comment, pro or con. There's been a number of anti posts there too. That means the full 900 aren't necessarily opposed.

That picture has, what, 30 people in it. Hardly an enthusiastic turnout.

Mark Hellyer's well advertised petition has only 86 signatures. Again, hardly an enthusiastic protest, is it.

Arthur Christian was all for this development, thought it was a great idea until he heard the Mayor was behind it. Mr. Christian and his mutiny appear to bemore about a dislike of the Mayor than the fish restaurant.

David said...

A couple of points, one I was against the idea of the restaurant before I came across the Facebook site on the grounds that it will intrude on the view even if you are standing some place it doesn't actually block the view. The second point is the picture was taken on New Year's Day. I posted the item early Saturday morning before the protest had taken place so dug a photo out of my library. Actually there were 50 people there today.

Ex DG said...

Why doesn't anonymous declare his identity?
The problem with the proposed development is that it doesn't only take in the footprint of the toilet block. It encompasses the footpaths that are at the top & bottom of the toilets and the garden at the cliff side, blocking 2 public footpaths.
ALSO it is not a single storey building as at present but a 2 storey building.
The other main questions to ask are:-
Who is going to pay to stabilise the cliff face?- the council have already declared it unsafe (Another Rock Walk fiasco?) Who is going to pay for keeping the trees and bushes trimmed so that the people sat in the restaurant can see the sea?. No doubt this will be public money.
The objections would all go away if the building was moved down by the Theatre.
The land is being given away for a peppercorn rent- so no revenue for the town!

Anonymous said...

50 people is still not that many when weighed against the population of the area.

Not 50 yards along the Downs is the shelter, which is around the height of the proposed restaurant (3m). I don't hear anyone complaining about that.

You have no idea if it's going to be "a dump". Stan Bolt is an award winning architect of not inconsiderable reputation. He doesn't do "dumps".

Everyone seems so worked up about this thing before they even know what it will look like. And yet when it comes to other eyesores along the Downs - The Sefton, The Buccaneer, The Morningside, years worth of litter blown over the edge into the scrub, dog mess everywhere, Hanbury's chip boxes all over the place, junkies shooting up behind the theatre, suddenly they don't care.

Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of the mayor, politicians, the developer or protest groups. Thus my views of my own and totally impartial and devoid of any motive or hidden agenda.

What a fuss!No wonder Torbay stagnates. Talk about nothing ever getting done or moving forward. There is a massive expanse from which to view Lyme Bay from Babbacombe. This proposed development is hardly what I'd call an eyesore. Move but a few paces - and I mean only a few - and the view remains as before.

Strikes me there are a lot of people either trying to protect their own interests or others with nothing better to do simply jumping on a bandwagon and playing politics to the detriment of the vast silent majority of Torbay.

David said...

That's the problem with change, some places just cry out to be changed. Take the old Palm Court Hotel, please. It's been falling down for ages, very few would object if that was changed provided it fitted in with the background and wasn't too hign, there are no pressure groups trying to save it but what are the politions doing to get the site redeveloped? Seems to be taking for ever.
But the Downs are different, the toilets may be semi delerict but they don't stand out in the way the proposed building would and that is what I am against. As for playing politics look how long the Clarence stood delerict for,right on the main road into Torbay. Polititions wouldn't let it be pulled down for years as it would reduce the number of hotel rooms in the Bay? Public pressure and a couple of fires won in the end.

Pat said...

A posh fish restaurant in that location is a great idea. There are very few fine dining places in the area and many people living here who would like more dining out options.
Like all small seaside towns, there are far too many people with vested interests, or too much time on their hands or just local busybodies who are hell bent on putting down anything that hints of change or progress.

David said...

My main fear here apart from the lose of view from a small part of the Downs is long term. What happens if the restaurant fails. Many restaurants do fail, it's an ecomomical fact of life. Then we will be stuck with a building no one wants. Bit like the Palm Court Hotel.