Alvin Furrer started the petition on change.org after it was revealed that owner Andrew Haining had requested a change of use from commercial to residential.
Mr Furrer, who used to live in Guernsey, said he was ‘overwhelmed’ at the response from islanders.
‘Very happy,’ he said, ‘but not surprised as it is clear that many people feel the same way in that they are sad to lose such a famous establishment which has been going on for at least 60 years. They see the damage that such closures will do to the tourist industry.’
Mr Haining acquired the St Martin’s eatery from the Liberation Group for £1m. in 2018. It closed in January 2019. According to the design analysis accompanying the application, produced by Soup Architects, the change of use ‘will create a wonderful family home on a cliff-top location’.
He stated, in a letter to planners, that the site was no longer viable as a restaurant and that the apparently healthy financial position of the business at the time of its acquisition was misleading. He also argued that the views are ‘no longer exceptional’, with competition from the likes of Octopus restaurant in Town, and that out-of-town venues were increasingly uneconomical.
Mr Furrer disagreed: ‘Jerbourg Hotel gets quite considerable local and tourist trade into their restaurant and bar and people have pointed out that other places, such as at Vazon and Pembroke all do well out of Town.’
Many petition signatories to the petition expounded on their reasons for opposing the application.
‘The use class of this building should not be permitted to change,’ said Andrew Ayres.
‘We have lost several pubs already to housing, and a restaurant in a spot like this should be preserved. I don’t believe it can’t be made to run at a profit.’
2020 election candidate Rob Gregson said: ‘This property was one of the jewels in Guernsey’s venue crown and part of the island’s tourist appeal. It should remain a restaurant or public house, not appropriated as a private property. We must stem the erosion of our public spaces.’
The petition is expected to be considered by planners.
‘All representations in respect of planning applications which are received within the statutory public consultation period are taken into account, whether they are in the form of a letter, email or petition,’ said Deputy Victoria Oliver, president of the Development & Planning Authority.
‘A petition would account for a single representation, however, the weight given to each representation will be a matter for the decision-maker. This will have regard to the relevance of the representation to the material planning considerations arising from the application.’
The deadline for representations to the Planning is Monday 17 May.