Food outlet to open on Wish Tower site

Wish Tower Cafe
Wish Tower Cafe

After months of controversy over the future of an eatery on the Wish Tower site, it has been revealed this week there will be a temporary food outlet there in time for Easter next year.

Eastbourne Borough Council says it will provide a catering outlet on the site and it will be run by the authority’s own in-house caterers.

Wish Tower cafe

Wish Tower cafe

It follows weeks of uncertainty over the future of the site after a planned deal between the council and developers fell through during the summer and the local authority had to go back to the drawing board to find a replacement outlet on the site of the former Wish Tower Restaurant and Cafe which fell into such a state of disrepair it had to be demolished.

While plans are drawn up for a temporary cafe on the site, a permanent restaurant at the Wish Tower will be considered in conjunction with the make-up of the new catering facilities provided within the new Devonshire Park development.

A council spokesperson said this week, “This will ensure our ambitions for both Devonshire Park and the Wish Tower are complementary.”

Today the site remains boarded up after being demolished earlier this year and there is still anger among certain quarters that the building could not have been saved and restored to its former glory.

Wish Tower Cafe

Wish Tower Cafe

Among them has been John Foyle, whose father Gilbert Foyle paid half the cost of the building of the Wish Tower Cafe and Sun Lounge to be built in memory of those who died in the many air raids of the Second World War and those residents who with fortitude remained in the town and survived.

The council has promised that a plaque in memory of the town’s wartime bombing victims will be reinstated when a new Wish Tower eatery is built.

Their assurance follows a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman on behalf of John Foyle.

The complaint was lodged for John Foyle by retired solicitor John Boyle. Mr Foyle listed what he considered administrative failings of the council leading up to the demolition of the cafe and sun lounge, and told the Ombudsman he would like a free sun lounge to be included in any redevelopment.

The Ombudsman said while he was sympathetic to Mr Foyle’s wish, he had no power to tell the council what it should do. In their submission Mr Boyle and Mr Foyle said the deterioration of the sun lounge and cafe was just one example of the council allowing its public buildings to fall into disrepair and they urged the Ombudsman to ask the council to improve its procedure for regular inspection and upkeep of important buildings.

The Ombudsman’s investigator was happy to put that wish on record but was unable to investigate the way the council maintains its buildings.

In the council’s response to the Ombudsman, Community Strategy and Involvement Manager Monica Ray gave an assurance that the council intended to ensure a ‘high quality offer’ for the site and was committed to ensuring that the original memorial plaque was reinstated on the site.

She added, “In regard to Mr Foyle’s wishes, we can assure Mr Foyle that there will be an opportunity for users of the cafe to enjoy the sunny aspect of the site and we envisage the new design to take full advantage of the location, orientation and its extensive views, but we cannot say that this will be in the form of a sun lounge as Mr Foyle may imagine, ie a free area similar to what was there before.”

As far as the temporary eatery goes, a planning application for a building is expected to be put before councillors in the new year.