I wonder if the xenophobic fringe of Meads are feeling a tad uncomfortable now after their poison pen letters telling the Sheng family from the Eastern Wok in Old Town that a Chinese restaurant in place of Ridgways would not be welcome in the village, failed to have the impact they hoped. All the signs are that now Damon and Bernard, the two men who owned Ridgways for 21 years, have retired, it has been bought and will reopen soon as a Chinese eatery, especially as in June a government planning inspector overturned Eastbourne council’s decision not to allow it. Far better that than the building sits there empty blotting the landscape. But as to whether will Meads’ gain be Old Town’s loss, we shall have to wait and see.
There’s more good news for foodies this week too with the news that Half Man! Half Burger! is still pressing ahead with plans to open in Grove Road early in December. I bumped into the owners of the burger outlet this week who said the deal is done, the lease is signed, the keys picked up and the fit out has begun. What a lovely addition to Little Chelsea.
That old chestnut of cycling on the seafront is back again with the news the government has put the spoke in plans to introduce cycling on the promenade and Eastbourne council must come up with an integrated cycling and walking plan. Two things bother me in all of this. Firstly, like others I was agog at MP Caroline Ansell’s comments that “there was no clear plan and local consensus”. When Mrs Ansell was on Eastbourne council, she was involved in the whole detailed process as a councillor (and abstained in what many thought was a crucial vote in 2014). I hope she isn’t rubbishing at least three years of painstaking and costly work by town planners, highway engineers, safety auditors and councillors and hasn’t forgotten the well organised public consultation in January 2014 which featured an exhibition of detailed plans for six cycle routes in the Town Hall. I gather the response was one of the largest ever recorded by both Eastbourne and East Sussex councils with 73 per cent of respondents supported cycling along the seafront and more than 3,000 signatures of locals requesting a seafront cycle route. Secondly, if Eastbourne is practically the only British seaside town that does not permit safe, traffic-free cycling along its seafront, do all the others have an integrated cycle and walking strategy?
Finally, a store which used to be one of Eastbourne’s main furniture shops is to get a new lease of life. Planners have given approval for a shop at 30 Pevensey Road to become a yoga studio. Those of a certain age will remember the aforementioned as Mrs Brown & Sons. As someone who grew up at the other end of Pevensey Road – opposite the Ex-Servicemen’s Club when it was guesthouse land and B&Bs were adorned with hanging baskets – I can well recall Mrs Brown sitting outside the shop. And not only was Brown’s one of the town’s first shops, the sign above is possibly Eastbourne’s oldest original shop fascia.
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