Marketing exercise to begin on seafront hotel and restaurant plans after narrow cabinet vote

Image of Queen's Drive showing Phase 3 marked in red. Picture: East Devon District Council

Image of Queen's Drive showing Phase 3 marked in red. Picture: East Devon District Council - Credit: Archant

Plans for an 80-room hotel and a two-storey waterfront restaurant in Queen’s Drive were approved following a narrow vote.

At its meeting on Wednesday (February 5), East Devon District Council's cabinet voted by five votes to three to launch a formal marketing exercise to identify a developer/operator for the site.

The plot represents the third phase of the seafront regeneration project, following the completion of the road and car park realignment in phase one and the imminent construction of a watersports centre.

Suggested uses for the site include a new two storey café/restaurant on the existing Harbour View café site, a mix of play and open public space, and a 60-80 room 3-4 star hotel.

A marketing exercise will now take place to see if there is any commercial interest in the proposals.

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Bids will be received and reviewed by May, and then a report is set to go the cabinet with a recommendation on the preferred developer/operator in July 2020.

The temporary attractions, including the Queen's Drive Space, will continue on the site for this summer.

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Cllr Nick Hookway though said that he had some major concerns, saying the council is held in low regard by Exmouth residents where there is a deep mistrust over the proposals.

But Cllr Bruce de Saram backed the proposals and said: "People will have fun and we want them to come to Exmouth and have fun, so I am 100 per cent behind this report and getting the project completed within the timescale."

Cllr Geoff Jung said that the cabinet appeared to be damned whatever they chose to do as the decision to realign Queen's Drive and the car park has cost the council around £3m and they have to find a way of paying for it.

A cabinet report recommended that the Queen's Drive Delivery Group continue to meet in private however, the cabinet overturned the recommendation.

They agreed that from March 1, 2020, the Queen's Drive Delivery Group should sit in public that an Exmouth councillor should be part of the panel who agree the selection criteria for the commercial development.

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