Fears raised about impact of Exmouth seafront development on Jurassic Coast

PUBLISHED: 14:55 09 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:55 09 August 2017

Map showing the position of the proposed Exmouth seafront watersports centre (top left) and the start of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site at Orcombe Point (bottom right). Map image ©Crown copyright 2017 Ordnance Survey. Media 064/17

Map showing the position of the proposed Exmouth seafront watersports centre (top left) and the start of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site at Orcombe Point (bottom right). Map image ©Crown copyright 2017 Ordnance Survey. Media 064/17

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Protestors against plans to redevelop Exmouth seafront have warned that the World Heritage Site (WHS) status of the nearby Jurassic Coast could be affected.

Save Exmouth Seafront (SES) says that plans by East Devon District Council (EDDC) for a watersports centre, developed by Grenadier Estates, at Queen’s Drive, could harm the setting of the WHS, which begins at Orcombe Point around a mile to the east.

In response, EDDC said there have always been a mix of uses of the seafront, which is not itself part of the WHS.

SES says its fears are based on correspondence with Malcolm Hart, emeritus professor of micropalaeontology at Plymouth University and vice-chair of the science and conservation advisory group of the WHS.

Professor Hart told the Journal: “I raised the issue that - perhaps - developments in Exmouth could be deemed to damage the view from the WHS, though - of course - with a town already in place, it is different to the views of open sea at the other end of the site.

“At the present time one has no idea as to how UNESCO would react. One really is in uncharted waters when it comes to perceptions of what does, or does not, damage a site.”

Sam Scriven, of the Jurassic Coast Trust, said it had not been formally consulted, but added: “It is true that the new buildings will be visible from Orcombe Point, and that they might have an impact on the setting of the World Heritage Site.

“However, the extent of that impact is unclear and we will need to assess the plans in detail before making a judgement.”

An SES spokesperson said: “SES now urges both EDDC and its preferred developer Grenadier Estates to re-consider the building of a watersports centre, for such a development risks destroying the vista from Orcombe Point and threatens the entire existence of the WHS.”

An EDDC spokesperson said: “It is important to understand that Exmouth seafront is not part of the WHS. This starts at Orcombe Point.

“There have always been a mix of uses on Exmouth seafront, some of which are less attractive than others and our commitment has always been to improve the attractiveness of the area.”

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