Orcombe worries

regarding Exmouth seafront developments: why can’t there be joined-up thinking regarding building projects in the town?

I refer to the proposed Jurassic Interpretation Centre plus 120-seat restaurant and cafe and ice cream parlour and shop etc being proposed by Mr Nightingale for construction at the end of Queens Drive and the desired reinstatement of a visitor centre by Exmouth’s county councillors (Exmouth Journal, June 30).

Admirable that both schemes are in themselves, I would comment that the extent of Mr Nightingale’s plans for Orcombe Point appear somewhat over-large for this particular cliff-side site.

Apart from the economics of running this complex during the dull, cold, wet and bleak winter months, I wonder about specific parking allocation (were there once plans to pedestrianise Queens Drive east of the new Lifeboat Station?) and, according to the Journal of December 8, 2005, even East Devon District Council officials said that a restaurant and cafe at Orcombe Point would be financially unviable on its own.

Some years ago, a community consultation, led by Exmouth Citizens’ Forum, highlighted that a Jurassic Gateway Centre would be ideally placed at the Foxholes Car Park, where both cliffs and estuary could be seen from the upstairs restaurant.

And now there is the separate topic resurrecting Exmouth’s Visitor Centre.

Surely, there would be more commercial benefit for all concerned if the Jurassic centre (and its facilities) were combined with the visitor centre?

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And to avoid such a prominent building at the picturesque Orcombe site (think on the Longboat cafe’s plans at Budleigh), why not build it instead near the car parks at the junctions with Foxholes Road and Maer Road?

Those just wanting teas or ice creams at Orcombe could be catered for by transferring the present seasonal kiosk from the Foxholes Car Park to Orcombe.

A timely letter from David Daniel (in the same issue - concerning the Longboat proposals) concludes by stating “... Any two-storey structure on the remaining site would inevitably conflict with the grandeur of the adjacent cliff and thus be inappropriate in our uninterrupted expanse of heritage coastline”. I feel his comments apply equally to this proposal at Orcombe.

One feels these two new building proposals should be brought together at one location, thereby benefiting from extra patronage, shared facilities (therefore running costs) and ideally not located at the far east end of Queens Drive, but at a location where sufficient car parking already exists.

Don’t let council’s views over-ride local opinion, as has happened regarding The Strand and Longboat sagas.

Stephen Derek

(via email).

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