District bosses have defended their decision to keep under wraps new drawings for Exmouth seafront’s biggest shake-up in years.

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East Devon District Council has earmarked the Exmouth Splash – including businesses between the old lifeboat station and the Maer – for development as part of its Exmouth Vision.

The first architect’s drawings for the much-debated plans have now been produced, and tenants and councillors saw them last week.

But, when the Journal asked to reproduce the drawings, the council said the rest of the community would have to wait until at least October.

The plans have previously attracted concern from groups including Exmouth Coastwatch – which fears its tower at the Harbour View café could be at risk.

However, many of the Splash tenants have previously said they want to work with the council – and EDDC insists they will be consulted.

An EDDC spokesman said: “We’re determined to do the right thing so far as these businesses are concerned, mindful of the sensitivity of this situation for our tenants. We gave tenants an undertaking when we met them in May that we would come back and share our initial thoughts with them.

“They have a right to see, understand and react to our ideas because it is their livelihoods that could be affected. The ideas are in the very early formative stages and there will be time for tenants, councillors and the community to discuss and influence any changes as they move from embryo to firm proposals.

“We will be holding a members’ workshop in mid-October and the ideas will be made public shortly afterwards.”

Exmouth member champion, Councillor Tim Wood, said: “Through the Exmouth Vision, we have always been clear that businesses with ambition to develop upgraded and imaginative leisure facilities could have a real part to play in a future Exmouth Splash zone. Some may decide it’s not for them, but we hope others will see these initial architects’ drawings and think ‘We could work hard to become part of this’.

“Businesses are seeing these drawings at the same time as EDDC members, so they really will be helping to shape what goes out for wider public consultation later in the year.”

The news on the Splash comes with less than two weeks to go until the first stage of bidding for the Elizabeth Hall site – put up for sale by EDDC – is completed.

The council has previously said that the number of expressions of interest already received on the site run into double figures. EDDC has suggested a variety of possible uses, including a hotel, restaurant or residential use.

However, the Friends of Elizabeth Hall group, which is aiming to save the existing hall and improve it for community use, is also involved in the bidding.

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