PUBLISHED: 11:31 16 December 2011
Regardless of whether you have an opinion or not on the outcome of the latest Strand development, the way that authorities appear to have gone about their business in ensuring they get what they want this time around, demands greater attention.
They have been telling anyone who had the audacity to ask (whether press or public) that the new building will be utilised as retail space. Indeed, the design and access statement produced goes to great trouble to explain to us that the council is responding to local concerns that the use will be another cafe.
Why then, in the planning application, is the applied for use A3, which is cafe/restaurant? Yes, there is also the Tourist Information Centre, a stage and a bus shelter. None of which, however, qualify for retail.
The main floor space is designated 100 per cent to the café; they even include opening hours and staffing, which indicates a thoughtful degree of pre-planning for the lucky new owner.
Then there is the timing. Yes, they can submit planning applications anytime they wish; but in the midst of Christmas, when all existing cafe and restaurant owners are at their busiest and maybe too busy to respond?
And if that is not enough, we are legally allowed 21 days to respond to planning applications. This development is being heard in Exmouth on December 19.
At the time of writing (December 11), there are still no signs or newspaper notices advertising the application.
Finally, the design of the new building, which is predominately glass, flies in the face of East Devon District Council policy for shopfront design for Exmouth town centre, that frontages should reflect their surroundings and be of a Victorian or Georgian design. No doubt we will get the ‘iconic’ argument thrown at us again.
Call me old fashioned, but do you not have to ‘earn’ iconic status?
What are they scared of?
Why the indecent rush?
If this proposal is budgeted for correctly, is going to be an asset to Exmouth and will leave a lasting legacy on the town centre, then the councils and their leaders should be proud of it and promote it accordingly.
If, on the other hand, it will look out of place, is not needed and is only being built to provide a quick fix financially for the authorities, to the detriment of existing traders, then... well, you decide.