Council gives approval for restaurant and yoga studio at Viking Bay shelter site

Green light for the seafront restaurant and yoga studio (plans amended since this image)

Plans for a specialist seafood restaurant and yoga studio on Viking Bay have been given the green light by Thanet council

The works will involve building a two-storey property at the seafront shelter and funicular lift site.

The shelter roof will be demolished and the building will use the existing Victorian pillars. There will also be external and internal alterations to the funicular station and railway to provide a suspended carriage.

(UPDATE: A new design is not available on Thanet council’s planning portal but can be seen here)

Justin Van Oortmerssen and wife Annita Gkioka opened the Funicular Coffeehouse at the site of the former seafront shelter and toilets in 2018 after buying the property at auction for £350,000 the previous October.

It had been owned by Thanet council and was put up for sale as part of the authority’s asset disposal programme.

The pair set about the task of overhauling the site, doing most of the work themselves through Justin’s skills as a carpenter and experience of property renovations.

The boutique coffee house, which also serves Kent wines from Chapel Down and beers, started trading in June 2018.

Justin and Annita

Now the pair have been given the all clear to extend the business with the yoga and restaurant plans.

Documents submitted to Thanet council for their proposal say the new venture will create at least 15 jobs, bring visitors and income to the town and reduce antisocial behaviour at the site.

Documents state: “Employment of at least 15 individuals, The proposed restaurant space and shared yoga space above will provide employment for kitchen staff, waiters, bar staff, cleaners, yoga instructors and management for both entities.

“Considering the location of these establishments it is thought that both would operate year round as they would not rely solely on summer holiday trade. This would mean that employment would be year round and not solely seasonal.”

As well as bringing new dining facilities to Broadstairs, the couple say replacing the ‘crumbing eyesore’ structure will bring tourism benefits.

The Funicular Coffee House Photo Skies Over Thanet

The planning documents state: “Our proposal will enhance Viking Bay’s reputation by replacing the eyesore of a site with a carefully designed space that would become a destination for visitors. “

The add that it will: “reduce antisocial behaviour, which is thriving on this site at present. The site is being used as a toilet and a gathering point for drug users, as well as open fires and obscene graffiti, despite the CCTV introduced as a deterrent.

“The smell of human faeces and urine combined with that of marijuana is not a good attraction for tourists at Viking Bay and does not contribute to the seaside experience that is expected by visitors. “In addition, the above anti-social behaviour makes the running of a food establishment directly adjacent to this area extremely difficult.”

The new building will have a flat roof dressed with local flora in order to encourage local birds to nest as well as providing rest to migrating birds.

There will also be outside seating

Amendments have been made to the site, floor and elevation plans since the original submission last year. Permission was granted by Thanet council yesterday (April 22).

Find the Funicular Coffeehouse on facebook here


  1. It’s a shame they can’t repair the funicular lift too , the top is still there under a restaurant decking , and broadstairs needs a Working lift !!

    • Don’t really see how it’s possible for these individuals to pay to repair that lift. Would need to come from public funding.

  2. I concur with the point about the furnicular lift. I remember the original well and it made it possible for my grandparents to access the beach. I wholly support the new permission though. However will the beach huts currently blocking the area and making it attractive to antisocial behaviour behind them be removed and not reappear?

  3. Good luck with your exciting and ambitious venture. I admire your vision and wish you well in creating a fabulous addition to the Broadstairs hospitality scene

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