D-Day for neighbourhood plan as referendum draws near

PUBLISHED: 11:50 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:57 21 March 2019

Exmouth beach Ref exe 22-16AW 9016. Picture: Alex Walton

Exmouth beach Ref exe 22-16AW 9016. Picture: Alex Walton

Archant

A blueprint document which sets out how the community wants Exmouth to look over the next 12 years goes before the electorate this week.

Registered voters will go to the polls on Thursday (March 21) to decide whether they accept the emerging neighbourhood plan as guidance to help decide planning applications in Exmouth until 2031.

Some of the policies included in the new document include a suggestion to combine the library and museum into a new single complex and the possibility of a new road being created between Dinan Way and Sandy Bay.

It also encourages the development of a permanent café in the pedestrian area of Orcombe Point.

Roy Pryke, chairman of the Exmouth Neighbourhood Plan steering group, said: “The final version of the draft plan has been produced in response to wide public consultation over the past three years with first drafts published and sent out for public consideration well beyond the national guidance.”

Deputy town mayor councillor Bruce de Saram said: “The plan is the result of extensive community consultation and, if approved at referendum, would devolve real powers to the local community to decide how they want their settlements to develop over the years ahead.”

Among the key infrastructure projects listed in the plan are improvement to cycle and footway networks and additional sports facilities.

If more than 50 per cent of those voting approve the use of the document as planning guidance, it will go back to East Devon District Council to be adopted.

The plan has drawn some criticism from campaigners looking to save Exmouth’s iconic seafront vista.

Nick Hookway, chairman of Save Exmouth Seafront, claims the plan’s policy relating to Queen’s Drive is ‘woolly and imprecise’.

He said: “The neighbourhood plan is surprisingly light on how it sees the future of the seafront.

“As the seafront is the ‘jewel’ in Exmouth’s crown was it not reasonable to expect that the neighbourhood plan would place the seafront at the core of its thinking?

“Save Exmouth Seafront believes that the seafront is a key resource for the town that exerts a huge influence upon life in the town.”

The polls will be open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday, March 21.

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