Call for rethink on Queen's Drive luxury flats plan

PUBLISHED: 12:48 14 August 2015

exmouth seafront

exmouth seafront

Archant

Town hall bosses have called for a rethink of draft £18million plans, which include luxury flats and a multiplex cinema on the seafront.

One councillor said he feared that the proposals would turn the area into ‘another docks development’.

In June, proposals for luxury flats, shops, eateries and a multi-screen cinema were proposed between the old Lifeboat Station and The Maer as part of the Queen’s Drive Leisure Area.

Before the new proposals, the nine-acre area already had outline planning permission for a watersports centre and facilities, including a new hotel.

However, in the new plans the hotel has been replaced with three blocks of flats, one 30 metres from the sea.

Town councillors Pauline Stott and David Chapman drafted a six-point town council response, which was debated at the full town council meeting on Monday.

The response states: “There exists a residential development on the seafront [the docks/marina] ...many such units are second homes and used occasionally.” It added that ‘some residential development may be necessary’ at the Queen’s Drive leisure development but at the rear of the site.

Councillor Mark Williamson said: “This is a generally supportive motion, but with important qualifications.

“I don’t think anybody wouldn’t want outside investment into Exmouth.

“We have a responsibility not to the past, not to the present, but to the future.”

Mayor Maddie Chapman backed a new cinema, but Councillor Pat Graham said: “The proposal says that there should be 60 per cent [of the area] for leisure and recreation – the plans released look as though it’s the size of the tennis court.

She added: “A cinema on the seafront is ridiculous.”

Councillor Brian Toye said: “As time goes on, they will probably want more apartments built, and there is a danger it could finish up as another docklands development.

“This is not a leisure zone, it’s a commercial development with a few leisure activities included.”

The proposal backs plans for 175 ‘well-paid’ full-time jobs, and Councillor Fred Caygill said: “We all welcome new, well-paid jobs, but can you define a well-paid job?

“Historically, tourist employment is not well paid.”

Councillor Stott said: “We don’t like what came out in the press, and that is why we are putting forward what we want as the town council.”

Councillor Steve Gazzard said: “We all know from September, we will have a building site for 18 months to two years.”

Councillor David Chapman said: “I have a funny feeling we are agreeing, and arguing about agreeing.

“It’s the nuts and bolts…we are putting a structure in place where we can alter those nuts and bolts.”

EDDC’s deputy leader, Councillor Andrew Moulding, said: “We can only deliver ambitious projects like this one through strong partnerships – both with private investors and public bodies.

“It’s vital that Exmouth Town Council plays a key part in this partnership so the best interests of the town are fully represented – and seen to be so.”

He added: “The town council’s resolution is extremely encouraging.

“There is recognition that the area needs refreshing, but a healthy desire to get the best value.

“There’s also a need to understand why a residential element has been included, and a very reasonable wish to check out the rationale for that.”

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