New centre is in reach

PUBLISHED: 02:01 23 June 2008 | UPDATED: 09:10 10 June 2010

IT could take just another third-of-a-million pounds for Exmouth to pay for a new visitor centre. With two possible options being considered, funds only fall short by £300,000 for the cheaper plan. And a starting date of 2012 has been named by project lea

IT could take just another third-of-a-million pounds for Exmouth to pay for a new visitor centre.With two possible options being considered, funds only fall short by £300,000 for the cheaper plan.And a starting date of 2012 has been named by project leader Tracey Guiry for the proposals which have two sites earmarked.It has already been confirmed that a total of £500,000 has been pledged by Devon County Council from the sale of Exeter International Airport, but the town council heard recently that £300,000 is all that would be needed for one possible site.The first site is the Imperial Recreation Ground - this will cost between £4.5 and £5 million and has been given outline planning consent by district planners.However, it is estimated at least £1.5 million will have to be spent by EDDC to decontaminate the ground - it is a 1960s landfill site.The cheaper option is for the centre to occupy the second floor of the proposed Asda store - which will include a new sports centre, swimming pool, a visitor cafe and possibly even a library on the Estuary lorry park site. This will cost about £3.5 million, and Ms Guiry said: "We would build a cafe or restaurant to make as much of the view as possible when people are having lunch or dinner. "We are almost there - it leaves a shortfall of about £300,000 to find." She added that obtaining funding would get easier - but currently organisations were flooded by requests for funding for the 2012 Olympics.Funding has come from the South West Regional Development Agency, which has pledged about £2.5 million to the Exmouth and Seaton projects to go with the county funding secured by Cllr Eileen Wragg.However the plans are dependent on Asda getting consent for the superstore.Cllr Steve Wragg, who also sits on EDDC's development control committee, said: "This depends entirely on the ASM Asda planning application getting approved."This is a store which is about as popular in this town as a rattlesnake in a lucky dip."Cllr Eileen Wragg also doubted whether 40,000 square feet was enough room for a library, sports centre, retail units, Asda, cafe and swimming pool - even if there were two floors. Town clerk John Wokersien said: "I am worried we will be a town of missed opportunities. "This is a window of opportunity we have not had before." However, many of the councillors were impressed, and Cllr Mark Williamson, who will represent the town council on the project board, said that it would help the town's regeneration.He said: "To get to this stage in a relatively short period of time is remarkable. "We have to thank Tracey for her hard work.

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