Watching the cost
PUBLISHED: 07:10 12 January 2013
Our Exmouth and district council, in this coming year, should examine in detail and pay attention to how much it is costing on commissioning all the feasibility surveys relating to the Exmouth Vision and regeneration programmes that have taken place concerning Exmouth over the past few years.
‘Questionnaires in abundance’ - but the answers have not always shown the tendency of being what are the expressions of East Devon District Council planning officers.
We should realise that a council does not have to abide with the wishes of the strength of feeling from the public against such schemes, and they do have a planning department which has the right to consider all their own future applications such as an ‘Estuary side’ supermarket or a Premier Inn, or the early proposals for the Exmouth Splash and leisure zone on the seafront, although it is said it will have a full public consultation, but this did not happen with the sale of the Elizabeth Hall site to Whitbread, as no notice was taken of the petition or the signatures handed in to save it for the community.
It should be concluded from this that it was a resounding ‘no’ from the town, as happened with The Strand retail unit building, which had £30,000 of public money spent on architect’s fees before the whole pavilion plans for The Strand were scrapped.
But would we know these facts if not revealed by the Journal and the Freedom of Information Act?
East Devon MP Hugo Swire said the £400,000 glass-fronted building would have had a detrimental effect on the area, and the same thing could happen with the latest plans for our sea front if we do not wake up, before it becomes too late, and the projects are passed at Sidmouth.
If EDDC could only see that saving and restoring this Victorian building as a gateway to our lovely coast line would have enhanced the seafront.
‘Reconstructed with imagination’ would have made something much more inspiring and useful to our community than the incongruous building of a four-floor Premier Inn.
Please do not insult us by saying a Premier Inn could ever be the landmark symbol even more than a Heritage Centre could be.
Exmouth may well find that the challenge of the council’s initiative in bringing prosperity to the area will cost the public more, as we have experienced with the lovely bungalow standing empty in the Manor Gardens. This was the tourist office; they now say it could be open as a café next summer.
We asked for this to happen in 2005, nothing was done and the council had to bolster it, costing several more thousands of pounds to rate payers.
We should not blindly allow EDDC to change Exmouth, then walk away when they find it will not necessarily work for Exmouth’s benefit in the future.