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THERE is clear evidence" that a multi-million-pound makeover of The Strand would reduce crime and improve public health, town councillors were told this week. On Monday at the town hall, Devon County Council's urban designer Alan Stone updated civic lead
THERE is "clear evidence" that a multi-million-pound makeover of The Strand would reduce crime and improve public health, town councillors were told this week.On Monday at the town hall, Devon County Council's urban designer Alan Stone updated civic leaders on the latest developments of the planned upgrading of The Strand.Devon County Council has pledged �2 million, joining forces with East Devon District Council which has earmarked �1 million and Exmouth Town Council.And following a public consultation, they presented three options that varied on a theme - ranging from part pedestrianisation of the area, and changes to the traffic flow in Rolle Street.Other ideas included more seating, an events area, development of the cafe quarter, changes to the raised flower beds and a general increase in public space.Mr Stone espoused the virtues of the plan, citing a major report, The Value of Public Space penned by Sir Stuart Lipton, the chairman of CABE - The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment - the Government's think tank on urban design.He said: "There is clear evidence from studies that improvements and well-designed parks and spaces have long-term benefits to public health and reducing crime."In the report, Sir Stuart writes: "Obesity already costs more in public health terms and will overtake smoking as Britain's biggest killer in 10 to 15 years."This increase in obesity is linked to ever more sedentary lifestyles and a reduction in outdoor activity."Access to good quality, well-maintained public spaces can help to improve our physical and mental health by encouraging us too walk more, to play more sport. "... our open spaces are a powerful weapon in the fight against obesity and ill- health."He added that 'fear of crime' often deterred children from using squares, piazzas, parks and streets because of parent's fears of crime.He added: "Physical changes to, and better management of, public space can help to allay those fears."Councillor Mark Williamson fully backed the plans, but called for a debate on the future of the town's economy: "I'm worried that Exmouth will be a jewel without a crown"I worry about the empty shops ... I worry shopping in Exmouth is not the experience it should be.