Exmouth seafront demolition plan opposed by councillors

PUBLISHED: 06:30 15 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:28 15 August 2016

Archant

Plans to demolish a seafront tourist attraction have been opposed by Exmouth Town Council.

Jungle Fun and the Arnold Palmer Putting Course have been earmarked for demolition by East Devon District Council (EDDC) as part of its seafront redevelopment plans, once the current tenants vacate at the end of August.

EDDC wants to use the site as a construction compound as contractors move Queen’s Drive – the first phase of a three-phase redevelopment plan for the area between the old lifeboat station and The Maer.

However, a majority of town council planning committee members voted to object to the plan.

The road is being moved to the north of the existing car park to allow the development of a watersports centre by Grenadier Estates, but Councillor Fred Caygill, a former coastguard officer, raised concerns about this, saying sea conditions there meant the centre would only be of benefit to experienced kite surfers.

He said he had spoken to a professional watersports businessman who said there were ‘much better and safer sites available’.

Cllr Caygill added: “I’m personally a bit concerned. I think it’s just going to be a kite surfing centre for the chosen few.

“[EDDC] spending £1.3million on the road for a person who’s an entrepreneur to be able to build what he calls a watersports centre, I find highly unbelievable.

“I think we, as a council, should be taking representations to EDDC and the regeneration board to say ‘let’s look at this in a bit more detail before we build a road’, because if the watersports centre doesn’t go ahead, we’ll be left with a road change and nothing else.

“It’s putting the cart before the horse.”

Councillor Tim Dumper said: “What we need from Grenadier and, particularly, the district council are details of what that watersports centre consists of.”

EDDC has previously said the watersports centre, which Grenadier has said will be run by a community interest company, would be open to all, but young and inexperienced users would be taken from the centre to safer areas of coastline.

Supporting the application, Councillor Bill Nash said concerns about consultation on leisure facilities in phase three of the plan were not relevant at this time.

He said: “We are talking about a straightforward application to demolish buildings which aren’t going to be used anymore, will be vacant and will probably be vandalised if they are not demolished.

“This is an essential piece of work that needs doing.

“It’s nothing to do with what is or isn’t put into phase three.”

Cllr Nash added that it was wrong to say plans for the watersports centre had not been seen, as town councillors had previously been consulted by Grenadier.

Chris and Maureen Wright, joint tenants of Jungle Fun and the golf course, reached agreement with EDDC earlier this year to move out of the site at the end of August, but continue at the neighbouring Exmouth Fun Park until the end of summer 2017, with a golf attraction moving onto part of the fun park site.

East Devon District Council planners will decide on the application.

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