What next for Wish Tower restaurant? Planners to discuss demolition

The long-running saga over the Wish Tower Restaurant moves up the agenda next week as town planners decide whether to demolish it.

A meeting due at Eastbourne Town Hall on Tuesday night is expected to include a heated debate over whether the landmark building should be knocked to the ground.

The council says the cafe and sun lounge is ‘life expired’ and planning officers recommend the building and the concrete balcony should be pulled down.

The council wants a private developer to build a new iconic tourist building on the site but in the meantime provide a temporary eatery in the area.

But protesters are likely to argue the demolition of the cafe, built in the 1960s as a memorial to Eastbourne residents who lost their lives and were injured during the Second World War, should be halted and instead the building be restored to its former glory.

The council is also likely to come in for fierce criticism for allowing the building to be allowed to deteriorate to such a state while it was being leased to a private company.

It was only after a lengthy and costly legal battle when the lessees handed back the keys to the building in October last year, it was discovered the cafe was in such a poor state.

The building took a further battering in December and the council’s decision-making committee cabinet voted to demolish it without realising the proposal had to be consulted on and go through the planning committee.

Among protesters are the War Memorial Trust and Meads Community Association while one of those who has spoken out about the demolition is John Foyle, whose father Gilbert Foyle paid for half of the building in the 1960s.

He said, “I raise the strongest objections. My father’s vision, accepted by the council, was that the building should stand as the only memorial to those who died in Eastbourne during the many air raids of the Second World War and those residents, who with fortitude, remained in the town and survived.

“ He also saw that the building would realise his dream for residents and visitors to have free access to read books in a sun lounge with outstanding views.

“The building is therefore of historic importance and should receive protection from demolition.

“In any case it should not be demolished unless and until the council can bring forward the planning permission an entirely suitable replacement scheme.

“My concern is that, if the present building is swept away and the council then finds no commercial developer prepared to build a suitable replacement which reflected the visions of my father, there will be no opportunity for repairs and restoration.

“The planning committee must not permit the creation of long-term derelict site in such a beautiful and prominent part of the seafront. The present building has been made secure and there is no urgency for its removal.”

In a report to go before the planning committee on Tuesday night, officers say, “It is accepted the Wish Tower Restaurant Sun Lounge and viewing gallery has been a long-standing feature for both residents and visitors alike.

“However, as is evident from the Cabinet meeting of December 2011, the site has suffered recent storm damage to such an extent that it had become a public health and safety issue.

“This health and safety issue added to the internal dilapidations that have occurred in recent times has resulted in the building becoming uneconomical to repair and refurbish.”

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