Tuesday, February 19, 2013
A new supermarket on the rugby ground will hinge on whether a new 500 metre-long flood wall, encircling the Imperial Recreation Ground, is built, writes David Beasley.
Environment chiefs say that one-metre high defences would be needed to protect a new supermarket on East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) favoured site.
The ‘Masterplan’ document outlines EDDC’s vision for Exmouth’s regeneration over the next nine years.
The Journal understands that EDDC bosses expect ‘open market tendering to secure a preferred bidder’ to start early next year.
And then, from 2015, they can begin a wholesale regeneration of the Estuaryside including Camperdown Creek and the refurbishment of the leisure centre.
But none of that will happen without a new superstore - and that won’t happen unless new multi-million-pound flood defences are built.
A letter leaked to the Journal from the Environment Agency (EA) to EDDC planners read: “…it is envisaged that (in order of preference) some raising of ground levels, a raised roadway, bank or wall to approximately four metres AOD (Above Ordnance Datum) will be required…”
The term AOD relates to measuring heights relating to altitudes on maps, which, in this case, would equate to a one- metre-high barrier.
A spokesman for the EA said that any defences would need to include the car park behind the bus station, the Imperial Recreation Ground, the back of the rugby ground, and the yacht club.
Camperdown Terrace would also need to be protected, he said, but with ‘personal’ property protection measures and not a wall.
He added that the area was on the ‘priority list’ for flood defences even without a supermarket: “After Exeter, Exmouth is the next one on the list in terms of being a priority.
“There is no funding in place, but if a bid was put in, we would have to justify it and I believe would have quite a good chance of securing it.”
Any project would also rely on supermarket funding: “If a developer came in, it would certainly speed things up,” he added.
An EDDC spokesman said: “The Masterplan is clear that this offers great opportunities to increase economic prosperity by transforming the way the Estuaryside and the town centre connect and work to support each other.
“But improved flood defences remain an issue before any such progress can be made. Our engineers are working now to assess the flood risks along the whole Estuaryside location, and we look forward to studying their detailed report and recommendations later in the spring.”
● For more on the regeneration plans for Exmouth, turn to pages 20 and 21.