Plans for new seafront kiosks put on hold because of decades old council rules

Sealife Centre in Great Yarmouth.Picture: James Bass.

Sealife Centre in Great Yarmouth.Picture: James Bass. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

A seafront attraction is so popular, queues form when visitors want to eat or drink in its catering area.

Now the Sea Life Centre on Marine Parade wants to build three new food kiosks at the front of its attraction to prevent the frustration felt by visitors.

However, the plan has been temporarily blocked because of an age-old council rule that states: 'The borough council will not permit proposals to establish new refreshment or food outlet kiosks/concessions on the seafront to the east of Marine Parade...'

The Sea Life bid was discussed at a Great Yarmouth Borough Council planning meeting this week.

In an officers' report it was recommended councillors approve the applciation but restrict the use of the kiosks to cold food only.

However, Christian Mountney, representing Sea Life's parent company Merlin Entertainment, told councillors he believed this would be unacceptable.

He said the centre currently sells a similar offering inside the attraction but was looking to expand to outside too, to avoid queues at peak times.

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Mr Mountney argued the proposal was an extension to their existing food offering rather than an entirely new venture.

Terri Harris, general manager at Sea Life, said after the meeting she had told head office of the council's decision and a response was being worked out.

She said: 'It is really a chance to regroup and rethink. This building is 26 years old – we invest in the building to keep it alive.'

The proposals would see the units selling items including hot dogs, ice creams and slushies and it is expected they would be open during the season, but closed during the winter.

The borough's core strategy, which was adopted at the end of last year, was quoted in the planning officer's report, and states the council will ensure the tourism sector remains strong in the town by safeguarding key tourist attractions, including the Sealife Centre.

The borough's planning officer wrote in the report: 'The overall appearance of the scheme is considered to be of a good quality and is not considered to have an adverse impact on the conservation area.'

The marine and aquatic life centre opened in 1986 and is one of the resort's most popular tourist attractions, is open all year apart from Christmas Day, and provides a large number of jobs.

There are two public objections to the proposals on the grounds of concerns about too many hot food units on the seafront and a potential disruption of the works during the holiday season.

What do you think? Why not write to the Mercury by sending an email to: anne.edwards@archant.co.uk or by post to Letters, The Mercury, 169 King Street, Great Yarmouth NR30 2PA.

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