Exmouth residents' views on Strand redevelopment plans

PUBLISHED: 09:30 23 November 2009 | UPDATED: 12:21 10 June 2010

RESIDENTS have been voicing their opinions on calls to utilise Strand gardens as home to year-round Exmouth festival activities. Regeneration work on the area, to cost £3million, is due to start in February and expected to be completed next November. Once

RESIDENTS have been voicing their opinions on calls to utilise Strand gardens as home to year-round Exmouth festival activities.

Regeneration work on the area, to cost £3million, is due to start in February and expected to be completed next November.

Once the refurbishment is finished, staff at Exmouth Town Council hope the gardens will be used for entertainment activities, including musical shows and house attractions such as arts and crafts stalls, taking place throughout the year.

Despite a number of people being supportive of the festival plans, some, however, remain worried about the regeneration proposals.

John Fletcher, of Barnfield Avenue, said: "I think it's going to be an absolute disaster. It will kill the traffic circulation. I would much prefer to see the area left as it is.

"We already have the Manor Gardens which fulfils its function really well with the new bandstand there."

His wife, Janet, added: "There isn't a problem with how it is now, although, they do need to drain the area properly."

Michael Jefferies, 65, of Ashleigh Road, said: "It is a waste of time and money."

Janet Butler, 59, of Ashleigh Road, said: "If they can make it modern with a Victorian facade, put back the railings and do it up, all they need to do is get the drainage sorted out.

"Last week it was like a swimming pool."

Janet, who works in Exmouth Market, added: "We get all the tourists in here and the majority are elderly or young families who go to Sandy Bay.

"The younger ones have come from ultra-modern towns and want to come somewhere different.

"I'm not against modernisation, but they have a mish-mash here of everything. If you look at Sidmouth and Budleigh Salterton, they've got the right idea.

"They haven't put up stupid blue bus shelters and space ship-style lights. They have kept their features in keeping with the towns."

Sonia Thorn, 59, of Maristow Avenue, said: "I don't think it should be touched. Just put the railings back and enhanced. Make it like it used to be. They shouldn't mess around with it."

Supporting the festival plans and regeneration calls, John Stuart, 42, owner of Headmasters, said: "I think the redevelopment will be good for Exmouth.

"I think the one-way system they are planning to introduce will be really good as well. I feel the town should become a bit more cosmopolitan."

And, Phil Hooton, 43, who runs Swordfish Gallery, in The Marina, said: "I think it is a good idea. It will make the area a bit more continental.

"The Exmouth Festival, which we're involved in, is a great event and it would be good to keep that vibe going.

"This is one of the first areas you see when you come into the heart of the town and it needs a tidy up. The development plans will freshen it up."

Rachel Evans, 41, of Exeter Road, said: "Even though I like everything about Exmouth as it is, you have to move with the times.

"I think if they could change certain little bits of the town it would help.

"Exmouth is a little bit old fashioned now. It can't be a bad thing having a festival spirit and activities taking place all year round. Youngsters will like it as well.

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