My misgivings

PUBLISHED: 11:52 21 January 2011

Last week you carried an article about the new building proposed for The Strand. Promoters of the scheme suggested there had been strong support for it at the Town Hall meeting held to discuss the plans.

I was there representing the Exmouth Residents’ Association and my impression was that there was not universal support, even among councillors. I expressed the misgivings of a small group of residents that had discussed the proposals the previous week. None was in favour of the new building.

At the Town Hall meeting, I asked councillors whether they had talked with their constituents about the building, because I had met few people who thought it was a good idea.

I personally oppose the scheme for a number of reasons. It is on too vast a scale and will dominate The Strand, blocking the view from the ‘Savoy’ side of Rolle Street. Piazzas are all about open spaces, distance and an absence of obstructions, so that you can roam unimpeded in all directions.

This construction will enclose The Strand and cast long shadows over Rolle Street, which might otherwise have been bathed in sunshine for much of the day.

In order to achieve a pleasing effect, it is important to have some consistency in design.

The council’s Exmouth Shop Front Guide emphasises the benefits of traditional shop fronts in considerable detail. Local traders have been asked to comply with these suggestions in order to provide a consistent appearance throughout the town. It is difficult to see how a futuristic, two-storey glass structure will fit into this traditional setting.

People live in The Strand, and ERA members felt that, for this reason, it is unreasonable to encourage amplified music and other loud entertainment here.

We already have the performance stage in the Manor Gardens, which provides an excellent venue for more lavish performances. There should be entertainment in The Strand, but it should be different, at a pavement level, quieter, more intimate and more spontaneous, involving street entertainers, musicians, dancers and activities and games that engage the passers-by.

What we do need for The Strand are a small bus shelter, a public toilet (nearby) and a ‘police shop’ to provide a police presence on the spot in the town centre. The Tourist Information Office should be included within the ‘hoped for’ transport hub.

Geoff Morris

9 Trinfield Avenue, Exmouth.

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