There has been much recent debate on the proposed new building for the Strand Gardens and much misleading information being presented, particularly regarding the stance of Exmouth Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber’s view is that we support the planning application for a new building, with performance area and bus shelter. We believe that the proposed building is of outstanding design and will make an iconic statement regarding the future of Exmouth, whilst recognising that architecture is subjective and others may not hold this view.
It is essential for the development and regeneration of Exmouth that people are attracted to the town centre to shop, work and for leisure. Events, such as the Christmas Cracker and Exmouth Festival, bringing art, performance and music, are fundamental in this process.
The Strand is also a key site, not just for promoting Exmouth’s Businesses, but also its community. It is, therefore, essential that the steps taken now act as the building blocks for Exmouth’s future.
With the cuts in local government expenditure being a fact of life, the new building is essential for the funding of the Strand long term. We have been assured that the rent received from the building has been ring-fenced by EDDC to maintain and develop The Strand, to ensure it remains at the same high standard and is a benefit and a feature for the town.
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What is housed in the building is a different question. The planning application is for a building with multiple options for usage. If permission is granted, EDDC will then have a tender process to find a tenant. With an open tender process, any person or organisation is able to submit a plan for use of the building.
The chamber plans to take a proactive approach to this process to put forward ideas that we believe would be to the benefit of the town. Our aim is to relocate the existing Tourist Information Centre to the new building, rebranding as an Exmouth Information Centre. This would act as a community hub, promoting the huge range of activities available in Exmouth to residents and tourists alike.
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In order to achieve this goal, we will require commercial partners, both to be involved in the running of the Information Centre and to share the tenancy costs, especially in set up. In terms of competition, we sincerely hope that no business will be adversely affected and we would ideally seek partners who would equally bring benefit to the town. An arts centre, interpretation centre or shop mobility have been suggested, all of which would surely be a benefit to the people and businesses in Exmouth.
We would welcome input of businesses or organisations who would be interested in partnering with the chamber to create a proactive vision that will be of long-term benefit to Exmouth. We would also invite traders, especially those around The Strand, to join the chamber, get involved in the process to ensure their views are heard.
Finally, the chamber also recognises that there will be instances in which not everyone will agree and, indeed, encourages a plurality of views.
What is universally agreed, however, is our commitment in building a prosperous and strong Exmouth for generations to come.
Exmouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce,
c/o Exmouth Tourist Information.