Recreation ground should be ‘protected’

Exmouth Residents Association (ERA) is calling for the rugby ground to be shielded from supermarket developers by using an initiative celebrating the Diamond Jubilee.

LDA Design was commissioned by council chiefs to draw up a vision for the town centre and seafront over the next 15 years, and has invited groups and individuals to have their say.

The proposals include changes to the seafront and Elizabeth Hall, and a new supermarket on the rugby club’s ground.

Last month, Exmouth Champion Tim Wood backed the ground as the best place for a food store, because it would encourage people to use other town centre shops.

But in their official response to the consultation, the ERA disagree – and instead say that the rugby pitch should be registered under the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge.

The scheme was first set up following the death of King George V in 1936, and has protected 471 fields.

The call is similar to a failed attempt by the Exmouth Citizens Forum three years ago to protect the Imperial Recreation Ground from supermarket developers, by getting it registered as a village green.

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The response from ERA’s committee, penned by chairman Geoff Morris, states: “Exmouth’s existing shops are all over the other side of the town in the Parade, Magnolia Centre and Rolle Street.

“Placing a food store on the rugby pitch fragments this shopping centre, which is not strategically sound.

“The distance of the town’s shops from the proposed food store, combined with the fact that the car park (Imperial Road) will be only short stay, makes it difficult to see how linked shopping would ever take place.”

He said the Imperial car park was used by town centre shoppers who will no longer be able to park there, and it was unlikely ‘that their present business will be surpassed by that coming from linked visits’.

The report adds: “The clock tower was built for Queen Victoria on her jubilee – we suggest that, in these straightened times, we should register the rugby pitch under the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge.

“This would send a strong message to future generations of how much we value our green spaces and sports facilities.”

l The ERA’s public meeting is being held on Tuesday, August 30, at 7pm at the Telfer Centre, Exmouth Community College, Gypsy Lane.