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Plans to convert fire-damaged restaurant holiday lets in Ceredigion rejected

The fire-damaged Copper Quay restaurant (pic: Jemma Sinclair)

PLANS to convert a fire-ravaged restaurant on New Quay’s seafront to holiday lets have been turned down.

Last July, firefighters were called to the Copper Quay restaurant in New Quay following reports of heavy smoke coming from the building.
Crews were called from New Quay, Aberaeron, Lampeter and Cardigan to the site on the morning of July 21.

Fire crews quickly donned breathing apparatus and established an entry point into the smoke-filled building.

Firefighters knew that there was nobody inside and, in view of the severe visibility, they decided to tackle the blaze from outside the building to ensure the safety of the crew.

Crews vented the building and tackled the fire through windows using hose reel jets until it was safe to enter.

With the arrival of more appliances more crew in breathing apparatus could be deployed and the fire was brought under control.

Crews continued to monitor the scene before removing loose ridge tiles from the damaged roof.

After around eight hours the incident was temporarily closed down before final safety checks that evening.

The fire-damaged Copper Quay restaurant (pic: Jemma Sinclair)

The damage following the fire – at the height of the summer holiday season – had led to the closure of several food and retail businesses.

Prior to the fire, The Watch House building had a mix of uses including the restaurant, a gift shop and the Lime Crab chip shop on the lower ground floor.

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Late last year, an application was submitted by Mr and Mrs G Thomas for a change of use of the first floor Old Watch House Restaurant to short-term lets.

The application was recommended for refusal by Ceredigion planning officers who considered the proposed change of use was not appropriate and in conflict with planning policies.

Five letters objecting to the development were received by county planners; concerns included: the loss of an A3 [restaurant] use and the contribution to an under-provision in the area for both locals and tourists, a loss of jobs, and potential effects on the picturesque harbour.

An officers’ report stated: “This application relates to development associated with the restaurant element of the building. The building is not listed; however, the site sits within the New Quay Conservation Area.

“The building sits within close proximity to the listed New Quay pier head, it is located at the end of South John Street, being an iconic building within the town.”

It added: “Due to the prominent location of the site, the proposed extensions, and alterations to accommodate the change of use would erode, if not eliminate the retail frontage and as the property is situated within the core of New Quay it would result in altering the overall character of the area.

“Therefore, it does not constitute the significant improvement to the environment which would outweigh the loss of a retail unit.”

The application was refused on March 20.

‘Massive thank-you’

At the time of the fire, the Lime Crab chip shop posted on social media: “For those of you that haven’t heard, unfortunately a fire broke out this morning in the building. Most importantly nobody was hurt.

“The Lime Crab will reopen when it is safe to do so. Unfortunately we don’t have a time frame on this yet, but we will keep you updated as things progress.

“A massive thank you to our emergency services (who are mainly local volunteers) for the most amazing job they did for keeping the building secure and most importantly the people around it safe. We cannot thank you enough for all your hard work.

“And again, another massive thank you to all our staff, locals and businesses who have offered their help and support, it really means a great deal to us all.”