ASDA plans 'tick a lot of the boxes' - but will town buy-in?

PUBLISHED: 15:34 13 October 2008 | UPDATED: 09:47 10 June 2010

PLANS for a comprehensive development package on the bus station site at Exmouth shown to the town s Regeneration Programme Board by ASDA tick a lot of boxes", members said last week. The final mix of facilities provided on the site will depend heavi

PLANS for a comprehensive development package on the bus station site at Exmouth - shown to the town's Regeneration Programme Board by ASDA - "tick a lot of boxes", members said last week.The final mix of facilities provided on the site will depend heavily on the financial viability of the proposed uses and there are still some issues of detail to overcome.ASDA's architects have been working with the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) to help shape the design of the mixed-use development, which could include:lA new supermarketlA new swimming pool andleisure centrelA new librarylA visitor centre with viewinggallery and terracelRetail shop and cafe unitslResidential unitslCar parking and a Mobility Cen-tre for disabled visitors.Following talks with CABE - the Government's adviser on architecture, urban design and public space - ASDA is now at a stage where the company is ready to share its ideas with the town. This consultation process began last week with a presentation to the Regeneration Programme Board, formed earlier this year to "deliver the projects that revitalise the economic vibrancy of the town and to resolve the difficult issues that need to be understood and overcome".After the meeting, the board's chairman and spokesperson, Councillor Peter Halse said: "I believe a great deal of progress has been made in meeting the major aspirations that the town - and the board - had about this element of the whole jigsaw that makes up the wider regeneration plans."He said the aspirations included:l The relationship of the proposed supermarket to the town centrel The sensitivity of the site on the edge of the Exe Estuaryl East Devon District Council's insistence on a high standard of designl The way the visitor centre is incorporated into the sitel The integration of public transport links.Said Mr Halse: "We now need to test whether the sums all add up and also whether there is buy-in from the townspeople of Exmouth for the package and for the design approach. "We are hoping that consultation within the town can begin quite soon and that a planning application may be submitted in the New Year. "This is the best way of checking whether the company's proposals meet planning policy, environmental concerns and sustainability aspirations."The scheme is not finalised and we still have some way to go. But we have a much clearer picture of what could be achieved."Mr Halse explained that the three local authorities - EDDC, Devon County Council and Exmouth Town Council - would play a pivotal role in delivering the full regeneration benefits from the proposed development by ensuring that associated ideas in other parts of the town were delivered. He added: "It's the job of the Regeneration Programme Board to ensure that there is joined-up thinking on any significant new scheme in Exmouth. "These include addressing the need for more short-term parking in the town centre, ensuring that changes to The Strand are integrated with the bus station site, that the public transport interchange is of a high standard and that coach parking is re-located in a sensible fashion."The meeting also agreed that Councillor Darryl Nicholas, EDDC's Member Champion for Exmouth, and a member of Exmouth Town Council, should deputise for Councillor Halse as spokesperson for the board if Mr Halse is away.Councillor Nicholas said: "I'm excited by what I've seen so far, especially the integration of the visitor centre into the overall scheme. The design looks stunning!"I'm delighted that ASDA and their architects have taken on board so many of the elements that we and the town have been seeking. "The package shown to the programme board supports the blueprint we have for the town in terms of branding Exmouth as a centre for leisure, arts and environment."I believe ASDA's ideas show a healthy respect for the environmental issues and the stated need for a strong design. Their plans tick a lot of the boxes and, so long as the elements we have so far seen all cost in, that's a very encouraging start." The Exmouth Regeneration Project Board is made up of the following organisations:East Devon District Council - three members (including chairman for first three years)Devon County Council - two membersExmouth Town Council - two membersExmouth Town Management Partnership Board - one memberExmouth Community College - one memberSouth West of England Regional Development Agency - one memberEnvironment Agency - one memberNatural England - one memberNHS Primary Care Trust - one memberPrivate Sector - three members.

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