ASDA obscured bigger questions

Exmouth has passed the ASDA test: it is not open to the highest bidder s terms, where those terms do not fit Exmouth s needs.

Exmouth has passed the ASDA test: it is not open to the highest bidder's terms, where those terms do not fit Exmouth's needs.An even more important outcome may be the concentration of minds as a response to dire threats: the town now has several community organisations majoring on the town's development prospects, and at least three local government-sponsored panels with similar objectives are either grinding into action or in prospect. Goodwill in such a good cause will surely crystallise into purposeful deliberation.ASDA was obscuring a far bigger sheath of questions which might together be called "What is Exmouth for?" In both senses, what is its function and what does it wish to become?There are two urgent reasons for tackling both questions:1. There are, apparently, at least two fundable conceivable developments on local authority drawing boards:l Strand Gardens design and function.l An initial development of the London Inn Car Park to multi-storey car-parking.Whatever the immediately local implications of these two proposed initiatives, they also have knock-on reverberations, which will alter or restrict change throughout the town's centre. It must surely be important that Exmouth people understand these implications before decisions are taken.2. EDDC has at last launched a draft of a 'Local Development Framework' (LDF) on which we were all asked to comment. I hope hundreds of Exmouth people have responded. I know I am not the only elector to find its analysis and proposals, for Exmouth in particular, 'inadequate', to put it mildly. 'The Framework' cannot be a stable structure if its main structural members do not include major components like transport and education. These are the responsibilities of Devon County Council. Only a unitary authority could be expected to produce a comprehensively-coherent 'Framework'.For me, the 'Development Framework' is markedly unfocussed from Exmouth's point of view on 'employment' and 'housing'. The employment prospect is painted, as for any middle England 'Blogsville', as though we had no languishing unique assets like l a visitor centrel a cyclists' meccal a small boat industryl sustainable energy sources etc.No other English town can match these employment specialities. All of them have employment 'knock-ons' to wider multi-level employment within the town. (Contrast this with ASDA's takings, which would mostly leave the town other than till-operators' wages, which might displace as many jobs in local shops, and at a lower wage.)As for 'housing', the implication is that Exmouth has no option but to accept thousands of additional houses, outside the Dinan Way ring road. Respondents to LDF are expected to state a preference for which of three 'green lungs' - ie greenfield space at present outside the town boundary - we are happy to lose - Littleham or beyond Withycombe or Brixington!The Framework says it aims to have work in Exmouth for many of the 3000-plus who work 'away'. But it has nothing to offer - more than a search for employment land - on which to employ them; and it expects only an additional 900 jobs to materialise for those living in their projected new housing developments.Because EDDC is not a unitary authority, it seems to ignore the needs a greatly-increased population would inevitably generate, such as a new secondary school - at a cost of �25 million - and, for example, the cost of completing Dinan Way from Courtlands to Sandy Bay etc.Where there is no vision, separate pieces may conflict.Nic Pawson,1 Greenacre, 5 Isca Road, Exmouth,


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