Wish Tower future remains uncertain

THE WISH Tower Restaurant is in a far worse state than feared and will eventually have to be demolished, councillors have been told.

But in the meantime the council-owned building could be refurbished as a short-term catering opportunity for students, or a restaurateur, or replaced with a temporary cafe.

A decision is expected to be made on Wednesday night at the council’s cabinet committee.

The seafront eatery was vacated by tenants at the end of October after months of legal wrangling between them and Eastbourne Borough Council.

But now that the council has the keys back, after paying out £37,834 to the former lessees, it has been revealed the building is in a dilapidated state of severe disrepair.

A full refurbishment of the whole premises will be required to enable it to be brought into a fit for purpose condition.

Hoardings have been erected around the entire building to stop trespassers and vandals. The hoardings will be decorated with Eastbourne images commissioned by a local artist.

While the previous lessees were allowed to remove fixtures and fittings, the remaining fixed items such as carpets, suspended ceilings and the building fabric, including boilers, windows and roof timbers, are past repair or have been rendered unusable.

In addition, the roof is leaking, there is dry rot, water is leaking into the sun lounge and plants are growing through roof lights. Extensive plumbing and heating work is necessary, tiling is broken and ripped and doors and shelves are broken and rotten.

The kitchen and toilet areas also need complete refurbishment.

Tracey McNulty, the council’s tourism boss said, “Virtually every element is in poor condition and the total cost of reinstatement to basic operational standards is as yet unknown.

“The ambition remains to create a signature restaurant on the site, which will add value to the wider tourism economy. This will, at some stage, require the current premises to be demolished.

“In the short term, we consider there to be four options.

“Further information is required to make an informed judgement whether it is better value for money to reinstate the premises to ensure operations are maintained and redevelop the site at a later date, or immediately seek a development partner to demolish and rebuild the venue, with immediate effect.

“Further work is needed to establish what investment each will entail in order to assess the value of refurbishment versus demolish and rebuild in the short-term.

“Council officers are working to fulfil the immediate requirements to establish the best way forward for the Wish Tower.”