Board overseeing visitors centre dissolved

PUBLISHED: 17:39 31 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:40 31 August 2010

LANS to build a Jurassic Coast visitor centre in Exmouth have suffered a setback after the volunteer board appointed to oversee the project was dissolved.

PLANS to build a Jurassic Coast visitor centre in Exmouth have suffered a setback after the volunteer board appointed to oversee the project was dissolved.

Now the project is likely to be taken over by private sector consultants, a move that could see costs spiral.

The Exmouth and Seaton Interpretation Centres Board was originally formed to oversee the delivery of the project in Exmouth and Seaton.

However they pulled the plug because of the increasing workload stemming from a slew of funding problems over the last year.

Applications to the Big Lottery, Living Landmarks and Sea Change schemes had been unsuccessful while the South West Regional Development Agency withdrew funding of £1.25 million per centre.

This had left both projects relying on local authority support to ensure that the necessary buildings were provided.

The favoured site in Exmouth is on the Imperial Recreation Ground, with additional land earmarked near the Mamhead Slipway for a separate seafront ‘interpretation’ centre.

But while a planning application for the Seaton centre is on the verge of being filed progress on the Exmouth centres appears, for the time being, to have stalled.

A spokesman for the district council said: “(The Board)… agreed that the joint work they had expected to be doing to progress the two schemes had changed out of all recognition due to a number of circumstances.

“The Board said they had seen their role as strategic; they had not expected as volunteers to be carrying out professional detailed work of the type that had materialised as the two projects struggled to progress in difficult circumstances.”

He added that EDDC officers were working to find ‘alternative ways’ to manage the delivery of the two centres.

Councillor Ray Franklin, responsible for strategic planning, said: “As in life, major projects usually have their share of good news and setbacks.

“I would like to thank the members of the Board for their efforts and I am sure that with energy and imagination we can find the right way forward…

“As far as Exmouth is concerned, discussions are ongoing with a potential developer (for the seafront interpretation centre).

“In the meantime, visitor centre experts Bright 3D have been appointed…to investigate an enhancement scheme for the Orcombe Point area as a welcome gateway to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.”

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