Scrapped Strand plan: £33,000 bill

PUBLISHED: 10:05 19 March 2012

A view of the Strand Gardens in Exmouth. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 5026-16-11SH

A view of the Strand Gardens in Exmouth. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 5026-16-11SH

Archant

Almost £33,000 of taxpayers’ cash was spent on the scrapped Strand pavilion plans, The Journal can reveal.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the county council shows that public cash was spent on architect’s fees, building regulation costs and planning fees.

In February, public pressure forced the Conservative-run county council to withdraw a second set of blueprints for a scaled-down £400,000 building, the day before planners were due to decide the application.

This was despite the plans first being floated more than two years ago.

The building, which could have housed a café, was intended to be the final piece of the £3m Strand redevelopment, with the rental income intended to pay for the area’s upkeep.

But, from the outset, the idea sparked anger from café owners, who collected a 911-name petition.

It was the second time the plans had been withdrawn. Last May, the original designs were pulled because the project would have gone £300,000 over budget.

Now, thanks to a FoI request, it has been revealed that fees paid to Paul Humphries Architects were £31,670.52, with the last payment in March 2011.

The cost of the original planning application was £670, with the second application not charged because it was made within 12 months of the first.

The final charges were building regulation approval fees for the first building, totalling £510.63.

Alan Haywood, of Franklins, who campaigned against the building, said: “If they had listened to the public in the first place, it would have never got to this stage.

“Originally, a small kiosk was proposed, but it grew and they ran with it because they thought it would make money.

“It has done the opposite and now it’s bitten them in the backside. It is their own fault.”

The Conservative county councillor for Exmouth Halsdon and Woodbury, Bernard Hughes, said: “When I first saw the plans, I was very surprised with the size, complexity and magnificence of them.

“I was never supportive of a cafe there – the town centre is well served by cafes.”

Lib Dem county councillor Eileen Wragg said: “There was a resounding ‘no’ by the public.

“I could never see how the nominal return would have justified the outlay - the figures just didn’t stack up

“We listened to the public and what’s done is done.”

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