A new café could be open in the Manor Gardens by next summer, after district bosses announced they were looking for a leaseholder for the old Tourist Information Centre.

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East Devon District Council says that a café or tearoom would be “a real boon for users of the beauty spot” and has been requested by people who responded to the council’s recent satisfaction survey.

However, the council has acknowledged that the high number of existing eateries in the area may hinder the plan.

Councillor Phil Twiss, deputy cabinet member for environment, said: “One improvement that many [survey respondents] mentioned was the inclusion of a cafe in the gardens and this is something we might look at again.

“With that said, I recognise that there are already a great variety of nearby offerings, including cafes, pubs, restaurants and takeaways.”

The council has agreed that the former TIC building can be offered on a ten-year lease, and negotiations will now take place with interested parties, with the council hoping the building will be open for business by summer 2013.

It would be subject to an annual rent of £8,000, to be reviewed after five years, and rent would be halved in the first year to allow for fitting out costs.

The news comes after EDDC’s survey revealed that 99 per cent of the gardens’ users were satisfied with them.

Cllr Twiss said: “This is great feedback from the people who count, our users. But we are not resting on our laurels. We want to make sure we keep up the excellent standards by focusing on the important things.

“We asked people to tell us what is special about the Manor Gardens and the consistent message was the floral displays, the bandstand, the trees and the games.”

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