EDDC's 2017 Exmouth move 'would boost business'
PUBLISHED: 12:58 11 December 2014 | UPDATED: 12:58 11 December 2014
Business could boom for town centre traders, if the district council moves to Exmouth, say civic leaders.
And traders, including cafés, restaurants and shops, could start reaping benefits within 18 months.
A third of East Devon District Council (EDDC) staff - around 80 officers - are set to move from their Sidmouth HQ to the empty top one-and-a-half floors in Exmouth’s town hall.
The town hall is owned by EDDC - and previous tenants, the county council, moved out before the summer.
If a third of EDDC staff do move to Exmouth, the remainder would go a purpose-built building in Honiton.
An EDDC spokesman said that any move would ‘likely to be in 2017’.
Originally, EDDC wanted to sell Knowle, a depot and Heathpark, site of its business centre, to pay for a new, state-of-the-art HQ at the SkyPark next to Cranbrook.
But, as the offers came in, it became clear that the authority would not be able to raise enough capital.
Last Wednesday, EDDC’s cabinet backed the proposals in principle.
Ian MacQueen, chairman of Exmouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce said: “This is good news for Exmouth.
“The Premier Inn is coming along and the seafront and Exmouth feels more vibrant. Having 80 district council officers based in Exmouth can only be good for business.”
At last week’s meeting, Exmouth’s Councillor Jill Elson, EDDC’s communities portfolio holder, welcomed the plans and suggested that Exmouth Town Council, could move into the middle floor, freeing up the top floor and reception for EDDC.
Mayor Bill Nash said: “One-and-a-half floors have been empty for several months now and EDDC has been losing money.
“Many East Devon officers live in Exmouth so it would be easier for them.
“But more than that, it could give Exmouth’s shops and businesses a real boost.
“We are not only talking about teas, coffees and lunches, but other businesses will benefit.
“Officers previously buying goods and services in Sidmouth would, instead, use Exmouth’s shops, and, of course, having East Devon upstairs will probably make it easier for the town council.”