Bistrot Pierre wants to turn the shelter opposite West Buildings along the Worthing promenade into a café bar on the ground floor with 70 seats, and a 150-seat restaurant on the first floor, with a retractable roof that lowers electronically when the sun is out.
Worthing Borough Council has granted the business a long-term lease to carry out the work. The public consultation began last Wednesday at St Paul’s Church in Chapel Road and runs for a month, ahead of the planning application being submitted.
Christina Davenport, 71, from Western Place, said she was ‘all for it’ having seen the plans. She said: “There was so much anti-social behaviour: the smell, the drinking, fighting. That isn’t good for visitors. I have every sympathy for the homeless but something needed doing.”
Judith Kellett, from West Buildings, agreed, and hoped the building would be able to withstand the elements.
Architect Sue Potter said this will be addressed at the project’s next stage. They hoped to include the shelter’s columns in the design – a ‘memory of its past’, she said.
Susan Belton, chairman of the Worthing Society, was concerned about parking and the size of the plans. But Chris Barker, who is helping the project get planning permission, said the Grafton and Buckingham Road car parks would be sufficient.
The chain also has seafront restaurants in Mumbles, Swansea, and Torquay, Devon, and serves provinicial French cuisine. It has a set lunch menu of three courses for £14, including beef bourguignon, crepes and co-founder Robert Beacham’s favourite, steak-frites.
He said: “There are those instant aspirational locations like Brighton, and as an industry we are quite lemming-like. But Worthing is an untapped gem, and the location of the restaurant is great.”
He hoped the restaurant would be open by late 2019 or early 2020 if they get the green light from the council’s planning committee.