Friday, September 27, 2013
The ruling Tory group on the town council suffered a shock defeat when councillors refused to endorse preliminary plans for a seafront Splash Zone.
But regardless of the vote work on the Splash Zone could still begin in 2014 if the plans are rubberstamped by district planners in December.
At a special meeting of the town council on Monday councillors voted along party lines and recommended that outline plans for a £10million, 3.6 hectare ‘leisure zone’ be refused.
Councillors voted on whether to accept a watersports centre, cafés, restaurants car parks, shops, amusements, in and outdoor play areas, a hotel and the realignment of Queen’s Drive.
Ten Lib Dems and the lone Independent councillor voted against the plans while the eight Conservatives voted for.
Deputy mayor Councillor Bill Nash went against the grain and chose not to endorse the view of his Tory colleagues and abstained.
Councillor Pat Graham said: “My concern is the financial state of the economy, that we will end up with a site which is knocked down and not developed.”
Councillor Eileen Wragg said: “It is quite clear to me that this is about the commercialisation of our seafront.
“Generations have come here to visit the openness of the seafront.
“We have heard that receipts will be raised through long leases.
“I don’t think that is really likely and I think this is about East Devon District Council selling land.
“Most of East Devon is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – and what they have left after that is Exmouth.”
Councillor Steve Gazzard said: “We should reject this application.”
Councillor Alison Greenhalgh said: “I think this is a wonderful opportunity for Exmouth and for the younger generation.
“I think it will bring economic advantages and it will generate a lot of jobs.”
Mayor John Humphreys said: “I certainly do not want Exmouth to look like Blackpool, but times are changing.
“We have had three years when we have had families come to Exmouth and it’s poured with rain and there has been nothing for them to do apart from the cinema.
“We have to invest for future generations and we have to invest for tourists.”
A spokesman for EDDC said: “The discussion showed strong feelings both for and against the proposals.
“If approved by East Devon District Council in December, we will then appoint a developer partner who will be an experienced leisure developer with the skills and experience to undertake a development of this scale.
“At that point, the developer will work up, submit and obtain a detailed planning consent which will again, of course, go out for public consultation. Work is expected to start on site towards the end of 2014.”