Question mark over Strand pavilion plans

The Strand pavilion may never go ahead after council bosses admitted they were reviewing if the scheme was ‘cost effective’.

A closed doors session of East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) regeneration board ruled that revised plans, essential for building work, should not be filed ‘at the current time’.

In May, the Journal revealed that the �400,000 scheme for a glass-fronted, two-storey caf�, bus shelter and performance stage could go �300,000 over budget.

Architects were instructed by Devon County Council, the main funders with EDDC, to draw up cheaper plans – but a week later the board pulled the plug.

The income from the new pavilion, which was to have contained what EDDC describes as a ‘modest’ caf�, would have paid to maintain the new-look Strand.

But caf� owners in the town said a caf� with 92 seats inside and out would put them out of business.

A district council spokesman said: “Due to a lack of understanding about these issues, the concept of the building has attracted unwarranted opposition.

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“The interval caused by the need to re-submit plans, to ensure it does not go over budget, gives the partners involved an opportunity to reassess the whole project.

“This will enable EDDC to work with the other two councils who are part-funding the improvements to check that it will deliver all the benefits the partners want to see in the most cost-effective way.”

However, the Journal understands that the scheme may have been overtaken by events - proposals for a Business Improvement District (BID), where Strand traders pay a percentage of their rateable value to maintain the area, could be cheaper with no capital costs.

But town clerk John Wokersien said: “It will be for the BID company to decide its own priorities and the BID is certainly not intended to take over services from existing authorities, but to add value.

“A BID company might well, in the future, decide it wants to supplement services … or bring about more improvements but, as a sovereign body, it would be independent of EDDC and able to decide how they spend the money they receive.”